Shortness of breath and decreased chest wall expansion are two common symptoms to indicate if a client has Atelectasis. Symptoms can be minimal if only a small area of the lung is affected, however, if a large portion of the lung is affected and the symptoms develop quickly, this can be quite dangerous.
If you witness these symptoms occurring over a short period of time and your client seems to be turning blue, which is called cyanotic, or if they turn pale, have extreme shortness of breath, or feel a stabbing pain on the affected lung side, you need to get your client to the doctor. Also a fever and increased heart rate could present itself if an infection was to accompany Atelectasis.
It takes a doctor to record your client’s symptoms and to perform a thorough physical examination. Once they have done a thorough examination, the doctor listening to your client’s lungs, they will be able to hear the diminished breath sounds. If they tap on your client’s chest, they will be able to tell if the lung is collapsed. To ensure the diagnosis is correct, the doctor will do a chest x ray to prove whether or not your client’s lungs have an airless area. If they do, Atelectasis will most likely be the diagnosis. The doctor may also order a CT scan or a bronchoscopy to confirm or deny the cause of the blockage.
It is really important to remove the cause of the blockage to alleviate the symptoms of Atelectasis as the first step of treatment. Some of the ways to do this is to have the patient cough. The doctor may also suction the lungs or perform a bronchoscopy. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed – especially when recurrent or long-lasting infections occur. If the infection gets too bad and bleeding occurs, the affected section of the lung may have to be surgically removed.
No matter what, it is important for you to remember that With Age Comes Respect and you must do whatever possible to ensure your client is at the best possible health that they can be.