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Lung Diseases and Illnesses

Black Lung Disease
Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia
Brown Lung Disease
Chronic Beryllium
Control Asthma
Cystic Fibrosis
Farmer's Lung
Kartagener's Syndrome
Lung Cancer
Partial Lung Collapse
Pulmonary Embolism
Pulmonary Fibrosis


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Partial Lung Collapse

What is a Partial Lung Collapse?

A partial lung collapse is the collapse of part or all of a lung by blockage of the air passages, or by very shallow breathing.

In an adult, small regions of partial lung collapse are usually not life-threatening, because unaffected parts of the lung compensate for the loss of function in the affected area. However, large-scale partial lung collapse, especially in someone who has another lung disease or illness may be life-threatening. In a baby or small child, lung collapse due to a mucus obstruction or other causes can be life-threatening.

Massive partial lung collapse may result in the collapse of a lung.

A partial lung collapse is also called atelectasis.

What Causes a Partial Lung to Collapse?

Some of the common causes of a partial lung collapse are: anesthesia, prolonged bed rest with few changes in position, shallow breathing, and underlying lung diseases. Secretions that plug the airway, foreign objects (common in children) in the airway, and tumors that obstruct the airway may also cause a partial lung collapse.

Symptoms of a Partial Lung Collapse

Some common symptoms of a partial lung collapse are:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Chest pain
  • Cough

Can a Partial Lung Collapse be Treated?

The goal of treatment is to remove lung secretions and re-expand the affected lung tissue.

Some common treatment options are:

  • Aerosolized respiratory treatments
  • Positioning on the unaffected side to allow re-expansion of lung
  • Removal of the obstruction
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Percussion of the chest to loosen secretions
  • Positioning so that secretions drain by gravity where they can be coughed up
  • Treatment of tumor or underlying condition

Complications of a Partial Lung Collapse

In some cases, pneumonia may develop.

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