Pneumothorax (patient information)
Pneumothorax On the Web
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A collapsed lung, or pneumothorax, is the collection of air in the space around the lungs. This buildup of air puts pressure on the lung, so it cannot expand as much as it normally does when you take a breath.
What are the symptoms of Pneumothorax?
Almost everyone who has a collapsed lung has the following symptoms:
A larger pneumothorax will cause more severe symptoms, including:
Symptoms may begin during rest or sleep.
Other symptoms that can occur with a collapsed lung include:
What causes Pneumothorax?
In some cases, a collapsed lung occurs without any cause. This is called a spontaneous pneumothorax. A small area in the lung that is filled with air, called a bleb, ruptures, and the air leaks into the space around the lung.
Certain activities may lead to a collapsed lung. These include scuba diving, smoking marijuana or cigarettes, high altitude hiking, and flying.
Who is at highest risk for Pneumothorax?
Tall, thin people are more likely to develop a collapsed lung.
When to seek urgent medical care?
A small pneumothorax may go away on its own. You may only need oxygen 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.
Lung surgery may be needed to treat your pneumothorax or to prevent future episodes. The area where the leak occurred may be repaired. Sometimes, a special chemical is placed into the area of the collapsed lung. This chemical causes a scar to form.
Where to find medical care for Pneumothorax?
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
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 a person does after having a collapsed lung depends on what caused it.
There is no known way to prevent a collapsed lung, but you can decrease your risk by not smoking.