Atelectasis is a collapse of part or all of a lung as a result of a blockage in one of the bronchi, the tubes that carry air from the trachea to the lung tissue. This blockage may be caused by a number of different factors, including a buildup of mucus or fluid in the airways. The blockage can also be caused externally to the bronchi by a tumor or a lymph node. It is a common occurrence for those patients who had surgery or were recently released from the hospital.
Symptoms of Atelectasis
Patients with atelectasis usually experience the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath as the primary symptom
- Chest pain
- Increased heart rate
- Dry cough
Patients who smoke or have lung disorders may be at a greater risk of developing atelectasis. This condition can be diagnosed through a physical examination and a chest X-ray to confirm the blockage exists.
Treatment for Atelectasis
Treatment for atelectasis focuses on relieving airway blockages. Treatment options may include the following:
- Suctioning for mild cases
- Bronchoscopy for larger blockages
- Chemotherapy may be needed for tumors that are blocking the bronchi
- Respiratory treatments to open the airway
- Deep breathing exercises with a spirometry device
The best treatment for you depends on your individual condition and will be recommended by your doctor after a thorough evaluation.