The lungs are extremely important for an individual's continued survival. When the lungs are damaged, it can have severe effects on an individual's health and well being. If left untreated, conditions affecting the lungs are often fatal, as the adversely impact the process of gas exchange. The following are some basic notes regarding lung collapse and the common causes of this condition:
Lung collapse occurs when an individual experiences the collapse of either his/her entire lung or a portion of his/her lung. A collapsed lung can occur in a variety of different ways and for a number of different reasons. There are three primary causes of lung collapse. These include compromised surfactant, compression, and obstruction. When an individual is experiencing a blockage, the object that is causing the blockage will prohibit oxygen from reaching the lung. These blockages may occur in a range of locations, such as the bronchioles, the bronchi, or the trachea. If this occurs, the quantity of oxygen reaching the alveolar sacs will be notably diminished. There are hundreds of millions of alveolar sacs contained within an individual's lungs. It is within these sacs that gas exchange occurs. When air does not enter into the lungs, it is not included in the gas exchange process that occurs within the alveolar sacs, and therefore, sufficient amounts of oxygen are not transported throughout the body. This type of collapsed lung can be life threatening.
There are many different types of obstructions that may cause an individual to experience a collapsed lung. For example, if food blocks an airway, restricting oxygen flow, an individual may suffer from a lung collapse. In some cases, significant quantities of mucus, which can be produced during illnesses or diseases, may also create a detrimental blockage. As previously stated, a lung collapse can impact an individual's entire lung, or it may only affect a small portion of the lung. When only a portion of the lung is impacted, an individual may not experience any alarming symptoms. This is because the functioning portion of the lung will work to compensate for the collapsed portion. However, if a collapsed lung is caused by a complete obstruction of the airways, all of the alveolar sacs within the lungs will be deprived of air. This condition will not only cause alarming symptoms, but if not treated immediately, it can be fatal.
Compression is another condition that may cause an individual to suffer from a collapsed lung. When air enters into the cavity that surrounds the lungs, the air will place external force upon the lung. The force will cause a lung collapse. It is also possible for this cavity to become filled with liquid. When this liquid presses upon the lung, it can have the same effect as when air is present within the surrounding cavity. There are some risk factors that are commonly associated with lung collapse. For example, elderly individuals who undergo abdominal surgical procedures have a high chance of suffering from a collapsed lung. However, it is important to note that this condition may occur spontaneously, and even individuals who possess no risk factors may suffer from this condition. The two primary medical conditions that are characterized as collapsed lungs are pneumothorax and atelectasis of lung.