Factors that increase the risk of atelectasis include:

  • Age — being younger than 3 or older than 60 years of age.
  • Any condition that interferes with spontaneous coughing, yawning and sighing.
  • Confinement to bed with infrequent changes of position.
  • Impaired swallowing function, particularly in older adults — aspirating secretions into the lungs is a major source of infections.
  • Lung disease, such as asthma in children, COPD, bronchiectasis or cystic fibrosis.
  • Premature birth.
  • Recent abdominal or chest surgery.
  • Recent general anesthesia.
  • Respiratory muscle weakness, due to muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury or another neuromuscular condition.
  • Any cause of shallow breathing — including medications and their side effects, or mechanical limitations, such as abdominal pain or rib fracture, for example.
June 11, 2015