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
  • Surgery
  • 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.

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