It is defined as the condition in which your lungs completely or partially collapse. Alveoli are the small air pockets in the lungs which inflated after inspiring air but they do not completely deflate during expiration because the presence of the surfactant if due to any condition these tiny air pockets deflated then atelectasis occurs.
At the early stage, it does not cause any serious sign and symptoms but later it may show:
- Shallow and rapid breathing
- Difficulty in breathing
Atelectasis occurs due to certain conditions some are obstructive and some non-obstructive.
Obstructive causes include:
- Foreign body in the lungs, the most common cause of atelectasis in children
- Mucus plug
- Tumor in the airway
Nonobstructive causes include:
- Pleural effusion
- Fibrosis in the lungs
If left untreated it may cause the following complications:
- Respiratory failure
- Hypoxemia(low blood oxygen)
Your doctor may diagnose the atelectasis by simple plain x-ray but he/she may recommend some other tests to eliminate the other causes which cause the same signs and symptoms.
- Bronchoscopy to visualize the thing which may obstruct the airway
- Ct scan
- Ultrasound of thorax. To differentiate the other condition of lungs like effusion and consolidation of lungs
- Oximetry to check the oxygen level in the blood
Treatment options sometimes depend on the cause of atelectasis. Mild atelectasis cure on its own.
Bronchoscopy or suctioning technique may require to remove the foreign body from the airway.
It may involve the removal of mucus by deep coughing and positioning of the body to drain the mucus. This therapy may help before performing surgery.
It may help to weak people who are unable to do chest physiotherapy to remove the mucus by providing continue positive airway pressure.