DESCRIPTIONAtelectasis is a collapse of part or all of one lung, preventing normal oxygen absorption.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Surgery to remove tumors.
Bronchoscopy (See Glossary) to remove foreign objects or a mucus plug.
Self-care after diagnosis.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSChest pain.
Shortness of breath and rapid breathing.
Shock (severe weakness, paleness of skin, rapid heartbeat).
Gradual, minor collapse:
No other symptoms.
Sudden, major collapse:
CAUSESThick mucus plugs from infection or other disease, including cystic fibrosis.
Tumors in the air passages.
Tumors or blood vessels outside the air passages, causing pressure on airways.
Inhaled objects, such as small toys or peanuts.
Prolonged chest or abdominal surgery with general anesthetic.
Chest injury or fractured ribs.
Obstruction of small or large lung air passages by:
Illness that has lowered resistance or weakened the patient.
Chronic obstructive lung disease, including emphysema and bronchiectasis.
Use of drugs that depress alertness or consciousness, such as sedatives, barbiturates, tranquilizers, or alcohol.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Force your child to cough and breathe deeply every 1 to 2 hours after any surgical operation with general anesthesia. Also change the child's position often in bed, if possible.
Increase the child's fluid intake during lung illness or after surgery--by mouth or intravenously--to keep lung secretions loose.
Keep small objects that might be inhaled away from young children (peanuts are notorious).
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory studies to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
X-rays of the chest.
Small lung abscess.
Permanent lung scars and collapsed lung tissue.
If atelectasis is caused by a mucus plug or inhaled foreign object, it is curable when the plug or object is removed. If it is caused by a tumor, the outcome depends on the nature of the tumor.
Encourage your child to turn, cough and breathe deeply after any surgery. Hold a pillow tightly against incisions during coughing exercises.
Your child should not smoke.
Learn to perform postural drainage (See Glossary) on your child after hospitalization. An inhalation therapist, nurse, or doctor can demonstrate.
MEDICATIONYour doctor may prescribe antibiotics to fight infection that inevitably accompanies atelectasis; pain relievers.
Don't give your child sedatives. They may contribute to a recurrence.
Your child can resume normal activities as soon as symptoms improve.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet, but encourage your child to drink at least 8 glasses of water or other fluid daily to thin lung secretions.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of atelectasis.
The following occurs during treatment: distended abdomen; sudden shortness of breath; blue fingernails and lips; temperature spikes to 102F (38.9C) or higher.