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What are the symptoms of atelectasis of the lung?

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Quick Answer

Chest pain, coughing and difficulty breathing are symptoms of atelectasis, according to MedlinePlus. Some people may not have any obvious symptoms of the condition. Atelectasis is the complete or partial collapse of a lung and is caused by pressure on the outside of the lung or blockage of the air passages.

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Atelectasis can develop as a complication of respiratory problems, including lung tumors, inhalation of foreign objects, fluid in the lung and cystic fibrosis, notes Mayo Clinic. Pneumonia, pneumothorax, pleural effusion and a mucus plug may also cause atelectasis. Anesthesia from surgery, particularly heart bypass surgery, is also a common cause of the condition. Lung disease, premature birth, general anesthesia, abdominal surgery and impaired swallowing are risk factors of atelectasis. Individuals younger than 3 or older than 60 are also at an increased risk of developing atelectasis.

Treatment of atelectasis varies based on the severity and cause of the condition, explains Mayo Clinic. Tests conducted to diagnose atelectasis and determine the cause include oximetry, chest X-ray, computed tomography scan and a bronchoscopy. The treatment plan may include chemotherapy or radiation if a tumor is the cause. Individuals may also undergo chest physiotherapy, which may include coughing, clapping, deep-breathing exercises and postural drainage. The doctor may also recommend surgery or another procedure to remove airway obstructions.

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