A collapsed lung occurs when air escapes from the lung. The air then fills the space outside of the lung, between the lung and chest wall. This buildup of air puts pressure on the lung, so it cannot expand as much as it normally does when you take a breath.
The medical name of this condition is pneumothorax.
Air around the lung; Air outside the lung; Pneumothorax; Spontaneous pneumothorax
Collapsed lung can be caused by an injury to the lung. Injuries can include gunshot or knife wound to the chest, rib fracture, or certain medical procedures.
In some cases, a collapsed lung is caused by air blisters (blebs) that break open, sending air into the space around the lung.This can result from air pressure changes such as when scuba diving or traveling to a high altitude.
Tall, thin people and smokers are more likely to have a collapsed lung.
Lung diseases can also increase the chance of getting a collapsed lung. These include:
Asthma COPD Cystic fibrosis Tuberculosis Whooping cough
In some cases, a collapsed lung occurs without any cause. This is called a spontaneous pneumothroax or collapsed lung.
Common symptoms of a collapsed lung include:
chest pain, made worse by a deep breath or a cough Shortness of breath Nasal flaring
A larger pneumothorax causes more severe symptoms, including:
Bluish colorof the skin due to lack of oxygen
- Chest tightness
Easy fatigue Rapid heart rate
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will listen to your breathing with a stethoscope. If you have a collapsed lung, there are decreased or no breath sounds on the affected side. You may also have low blood pressure.
Tests that may be ordered include:
Arterial blood gases Chest x-ray
A small pneumothorax may go away on its own. You may only need oxygen treatment and rest.
The health care provider may use a needle to pull the extra air out from around the lung so it can expand more fully. You may be allowed to go home if you live near the hospital.
If you have a large pneumothorax, a
Some patients with a collapsed lung need extra oxygen.
If you have a collapsed lung, you are more likely to have another one in the future if you:
Are tall and thin
Continue to smoke
Have had two collapsed lungs in the past
How well you do after having a collapsed lung depends on what caused it.
- Another collapsed lung in the future
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of a collapsed lung, especially if you have had one before.
There is no known way to prevent a collapsed lung. You can decrease your risk by not smoking.