What is atelectasis?

| May 10, 2021 | Asbestos |

When asbestos exposure occurs on a regular basis, numerous lung diseases and difficulties can arise. According to the Mayo Clinic, atelectasis is a breathing complication that can occur after inhaling a foreign object.

The condition causes collapse within the lung. Sometimes, the condition affects the entire lung. Other times, it only impacts a portion of the lung. In either case, this condition significantly inhibits breathing and requires timely treatment to prevent worsening effects.

Symptoms of atelectasis

Symptoms of atelectasis include an inability to take in a full breath, which is sometimes called shallow breathing. A person will also experience coughing or wheezing as a result of difficult breathing. Any breathing difficulties require a medical evaluation from a doctor, so do not delay if you experience any of these symptoms.

Complications of atelectasis

Without proper treatment, you are at risk of more serious complications. When your lungs are not able to pull air into the air sacs, also known as the alveoli, you could experience low blood oxygen levels. Because mucus is more likely to accumulate in a collapsed lung, you are also at risk of developing pneumonia. Some of these effects are life-threatening, particularly when occurring in a vulnerable individual.

Treatments for atelectasis

The doctor will conduct diagnostic testing first to determine the extent of lung damage. This includes x-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds. Doctors often recommend physiotherapy to build up the collapsed lung for optimum breathing. You may also receive a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, which opens up the airways to deliver a fresh flow of oxygen. When mucus accumulation is an issue, the doctor will provide therapies for clearing the lungs, such as an air-pulse vibrator vest.

It is possible to make a recovery from atelectasis with the right medical care. If the condition is asbestos-related, you will also need to remove yourself from any harmful environments to prevent the problem from happening again.