What Should You Know about Collapsed Lung (Pneumothorax)?
What Is a Collapsed Lung (Pneumothorax)?
A collapsed lung or pneumothorax refers to a condition in which the space between the wall of the chest cavity and the lung itself fills with air, causing all or a portion of the lung to collapse. Air usually enters this space, called the pleural space, through an injury to the chest wall or a hole in the lung. This result is called a pneumothorax, which is the medical term for a collapsed lung.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Collapsed Lung?
Symptoms of collapsed lung include sharp, stabbing chest pain that worsens on breathing or with deep inhalation that often radiates to the shoulder and or back; and a dry, hacking cough. In severe cases a person may go into shock, which is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical treatment. See a doctor for any type of chest pain or suspected pneumothorax.
What Causes a Collapsed Lung?
Causes of collapsed lung include trauma to the chest cavity (fractured rib, penetrating trauma from a bullet, knife, or other sharp object), cigarette smoking, drug abuse, and certain lung diseases. Sometimes, the lung may collapse without an apparent injury, called spontaneous pneumothorax.
What Are the Types of Pneumothoraces?
There are two types of pneumothorax, tension and simple.
How Is a Collapsed Lung Treated?
Pneumothorax is usually treated with removal of air under pressure, by inserting a needle attached to a syringe into the chest cavity. A chest tube may be used and left in place for several days. In some cases, surgery may be needed.
What Is the Outlook for Collapsed Lung?
The prognosis of pneumothorax depends on its cause. In most cases once the pneumothorax has healed, there is no long-term effect on health, but spontaneous pneumothorax can recur in up to 50% of people.