Atelectasis, also called partial lung collapse, is a common problem that can happen to people who have had surgery. After surgery or treatment, having a collapsed lung can also cause other problems that can put your life in danger. If a patient shows signs of this illness, a doctor must keep an eye on them and move quickly. If a doctor or nurse doesn’t do these things, they are being careless and should be held responsible. Somehow you or a loved one got atelectasis because of someone else’s carelessness, you should talk to a lawyer. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC’s personal injury lawyers have worked on serious, complicated issues for decades. In this blog post, we discuss about Can a collapsed lung kill you?
What is it?
Atelectasis is a disease in which the lung either collapses completely or partially. This disease happens when there is a blockage in the mouth or when there is pressure on the lung.
When a lung collapses, the air sacs, or alveoli, can’t fill with oxygen. So, this part of the lung can’t do its job.
Difference Between a collapsed lung and a hole in the lungs
Atelectasis and pneumothorax can be confused with each other because both cause parts of the lungs to fall. What makes them different is what causes the symptoms.
Atelectasis can be caused by a blockage or by something pressing on the lung. Pneumothorax happens when a hole lets air out of the chest region.
What can cause atelectasis?
Most people who have atelectasis are in the hospital or have recently had surgery. Here are some of the most common ways a person can get atelectasis.
Surgery and Drugs for Pain
One of the most common things that cause atelectasis is general anesthesia. It happens to a lot of people who have had big surgery because this treatment makes them lose awareness.
Anesthesia makes it hard to breathe normally and stops the need to cough. After treatment on the chest or abdomen, it could hurt to take deep breaths or push air out. The lungs can get full of mucus.
Anesthesia can change how a person normally breathes and how their lungs move gases. A person who is under anesthesia might not be able to cough or take deep breaths to clear their airways.
A mucus plug could be caused by a buildup of mucus in the passageways of the lungs. This problem can happen if a patient can’t breathe during surgery. The lungs may also be suctioned to help clear them out.
Something from outside is blocking the airway
If a person accidentally breathes in something, it can block the opening in their lung, making them breathe more shallowly. Atelectasis is common in kids because they are more likely to breathe in something that isn’t food.
When fluid builds up between the lungs and the inside of the chest wall, it puts pressure on one of the lungs. If the heart doesn’t pump well or if there is inflammation, fluid can build up in this area.
Lung diseases, surgery, breathing in dangerous chemicals, or getting hurt can all cause scarring in the lungs.
Long Time in Bed
When the muscles don’t work as hard to get rid of extra fluid, it tends to build up in the lungs faster. When a part of the lung has compressed, there is less space for the flow of gases.
Atelectasis can be caused by tumors.
If growth is in the lung, it can make it hard to breathe. Atelectasis can also be caused by a growth that puts pressure on a lung.
What are some other things that can cause atelectasis?
Atelectasis can be caused by a number of things. Some of the things that might make a person more likely to get atelectasis are:
- Older age
- Diseases of the lungs and other lung problems
- When it hurts to breathe
- Weakness in the muscles after surgery
- Smoking Obesity
Atelectasis Signs and Symptoms
There are times when a person with atelectasis has no signs. When atelectasis is more serious, the patient will show signs that lung function is getting worse.
Some symptoms of atelectasis can be:
- Trouble breathing
- It hurts to breathe
- Chest pain
- Short, shallow breaths
How to Stay Away from Atelectasis
Atelectasis is a regular problem for people who have surgery or are in the hospital, but there are ways to keep from getting it. The medical staff takes certain steps to make sure that a patient doesn’t get atelectasis.
Patients may also be told to do things that will help them stay healthy. The medical staff should encourage people to move around and take deep breaths.
These things are important for people who need vital care and have to stay in bed because of an illness or accident. Atelectasis can also be avoided by telling people who have had medication to keep breathing deeply.
Anesthesia will make the body feel relaxed and numb, so telling a patient to take deep breaths will help the lungs get more air. Another way to stop atelectasis in people who find it hard to breathe regularly is to give them pain medicine.
To avoid atelectasis, painkillers can make it easier to breathe deeply and lessen the pain.
Atelectasis could lead to a number of problems.
Atelectasis can cause more serious problems in people who already have a major illness, like lung cancer. If both lungs have failed, a patient may be put in critical care to help support the breathing system.
Some of the problems that can come up because of atelectasis are:
- A person with a collapsed lung has a high chance of getting pneumonia because the mucus in the lung can cause an infection.
- Respiratory failure: You can die if you lose a lung region or the whole lung.
- Hypoxemia, or a low amount of oxygen in the blood, can happen to a person. If you have atelectasis, your lungs might not be able to get enough oxygen into your blood.
- Exercises for deep breathing and treatments for atelectasis
- Most of the time, atelectasis gets better on its own. A qualified doctor can do a physical check and a chest X-ray to find out what’s wrong and how bad it is.
The following methods help a patient’s deflated lung tissue to get bigger again.
- Exercises for deep breathing
- Inhaled drugs to open the airways
- Staying physically busy. In physiotherapy, tapping on the chest to break up mucus plugs and sleeping on one side are two of the things that are done.
Postural drainage is when you tilt your body so that your head is lower than your chest. This helps drain mucus.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines help to increase positive pressure in the lungs.
When a patient has surgery, it is very important to keep a close eye on them to avoid atelectasis. A doctor should also take care of any signs of atelectasis right away.
If someone doesn’t take care of their atelectasis, it can lead to life-threatening problems. Most people will do well after treatment, but someone with a lot of cancer or another serious disease may have a hard time getting better.
Talk to a doctor about medical negligence.
If someone else’s carelessness caused you or a loved one to get atelectasis or a worsening of this condition, you should talk to a lawyer. A doctor should be held responsible if they didn’t keep an eye on a patient or move quickly enough to stop a collapsed lung.
You might be able to get money for the harm that the offender did. Talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to find out what your choices are.
In your case of medical malpractice, our lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC will give you the best assistance possible. We can help you through the process and answer any questions you may have.
Our Chicago law firm has helped thousands of people who were hurt because a doctor or hospital did something wrong. Call us at (888) 424-5757, and one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers will review your case for free.
Through an attorney-client connection, any private or sensitive information you share with our law team will stay private.
FAQ | Can a collapsed lung kill you?
Can a crushed lung kill someone?
It is very important to handle a pneumothorax caused by chest injuries as soon as possible because it can lead to deadly consequences like heart failure, trouble breathing, shock, and death.
Can you live with a lung that has collapsed?
A small pneumothorax might go away on its own over time. You might just need to get some air and rest. The doctor or nurse may use a needle to let the air out of the space around the lung so it can grow bigger. If you live close to the hospital, you might be able to go home.
Can you live with only one lung?
If they had to, most people could get by with only one lung instead of two. Unless the other lung is hurt, one lung is usually enough to get enough air and get rid of enough carbon dioxide. During a pneumonectomy, a cut (incision) is made on the side of your body.