Factors that increase the risk of atelectasis include:

  • Premature birth, if the lungs aren't fully developed
  • Impaired swallowing function, particularly in older adults — aspirating secretions into the lungs is a major source of infections
  • Any condition that interferes with spontaneous coughing, yawning and sighing
  • Lung disease, such as asthma, bronchiectasis or cystic fibrosis
  • Confinement to bed, with infrequent change of position
  • Abdominal or chest surgery
  • Recent general anesthesia
  • Shallow breathing — a result of abdominal pain or rib fracture, for example
  • Respiratory muscle weakness, due to muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury or another neuromuscular condition
  • Obesity — fat in the abdomen can elevate your diaphragm and hamper your ability to inhale fully
  • Age — being a young child between the ages of 1 and 3
Jul. 14, 2012