Atelectasis happens when partial or the entire lung fails to be filled with enough air. There are two types of atelectasis: obstructive and non-obstructive. The causes of those two types are different:
- Obstructive atelectasis is usually caused by the blockage of your airways, like breathing in external objects, or by internal tumors and lumps in the airways.
- Non-obstructive atelectasis is caused by outside pressures, including pleural effusion, pneumothorax, surgeries, injuries, scarred tissues in the lung, large tumors in the chest, lung infections, and deficiency in surfactant.
When the doctor wants to make sure whether you are having atelectasis, they will ask you to take image testing (chest X-ray, CT scan), oximetry to test oxygen level, and bronchoscopy
to make the diagnosis.
The atelectasis will not cause obvious symptoms if it only affects small areas of the lung. But when it affects larger parts or the lung as a whole, it will cause serious breathing problems. Mild atelectasis does not need many medical interventions. Breathing exercises are useful to solve the problem.
Treatments with severe conditions may include:
- Surgical option to remove foreign objects or tumors in the airways or to partial removal of the lung.
- Chest physiotherapy by vibrating the mucus.
- Bronchoscopy to remove the blockage in your airways by inserting a small tube.
After the treatments, the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is also useful to train your breathing. Smoking is absolutely prohibited for patients with atelectasis.
Consult your doctor if you feel uncomfortable in your airways.
Key words: atelectasis; obstructive; non-obstructive; causes; treatments.