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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What is atelectasis?

Atelectasis is a condition that happens when the alveoli in your lungs cannot expand fully. This may cause part or all of your lung to collapse. Alveoli are tiny air sacs in your lungs. Alveoli exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide and help put oxygen into your blood. The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide cannot take place in the alveoli when your lung collapses.

Inspiration and Expiration

What causes atelectasis?

What increases my risk for atelectasis?

What are the signs and symptoms of atelectasis?

You may not have any symptoms, or you may have any of the following:

How is atelectasis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will listen to your lungs. Your provider may tap on areas of your back and chest. You may also need any of the following:

How is atelectasis treated?

If your lung has collapsed, you may need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment. You also may need any of the following:

How can I manage or prevent atelectasis?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone call if:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.