A collapse of a portion or of the entire lung is known as atelectasis of lung. This happens when it becomes airless. Absorbing oxygen into the bloodstream and removing carbon dioxide from the body is known as a gas exchange and is the primary function of the lungs. Alveoli are small sacs in the lungs that remain open and are filled with air. A liquid lining known as surfactant blocks the alveoli’s desire to close and keeps them open. Other actions like cough and deep breaths open the alveoli. If these tiny sacs become closed, gas exchange cannot take place. Blood vessels are naturally constricted by the body to compensate for the decreased level of oxygen in the blood. This change in the blood vessels changes the route of blood flow to alveoli of the lungs which are open so that the exchange can take place.
There are five different types of atelectasis that can be suffered. Resorptive atelectasis is when the airway becomes blocked and ventilation to the lungs is cut off. Relaxation atelectasis occurs when the lung is near the chest wall. Negative pressure is lost and the lungs recoil. Adhesive atelectasis involves a loss of surfactant. With this loss, the alveoli cannot remain open and the lungs collapse. Cicatricial atelectasis is a fibrotic disorder where the alveoli is trapped in a scar. The final classification is a round atelectasis. This condition occurs when the lungs are effected by pleural disease and is left without air. Pleural disease is a condition where air builds up in the pleural cavity from the lungs or surrounding areas and cannot escape.
One of the most common atelectasis causes is blockage of the bronchi tubes. The blockage can be a result of a tumor, plug of mucus, or a foreign object that is swallowed. Most often this is the case in young children. It is also possible for pressure to be applied by organs on the outside of the tubes as well. When the blockage occurs, the air of the alveoli is absorbed into the bloodstream. This causes them to shrink and collapse. If this condition continues for several days, infection can sit in. Another of atelectasis causes is the inability to cough or take deep breaths. These promote atelectasis and are affected by some medications like sedatives. Anesthesia and abdominal surgeries also contribute to more shallow breathing. Chest deformities, smoking, lung disorders, and abdominal swelling increase the risk for this condition.
The only symptoms associated with atelectasis is shortness of breath. Depending on how rapidly the condition develops, pains will change in severity. Chest pain can also be experienced but is normally attached to other medical conditions. Diagnosis is based on patient’s symptoms and can be confirmed by x-rays that show areas without air. Atelectasis treatment involves taking deep breaths to assist in relieving the airway. Blockage can also be suctioned away by a physician. If this does not work, another atelectasis treatment is Bronchoscopy procedure. This is a viewing tube that is placed in the bronchus and can show blockage. Symptoms can also be treated for this condition by the usage of a breathing tube or ventilator. Breathing deep and avoiding the triggers which cause abnormalities in breathing is the most effective way to prevent atelectasis of lung.