When a lung collapses, the person experiences a sudden shortness of breath, rapid breathing to get air, sharp chest pain and pain when breathing. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition.
A collapsed lung typically is caused by a chest or lung injury. Spontaneous lung collapse is more likely in people whose lungs are damaged by disease, but sometimes happens to otherwise healthy people as well.
The condition may resolve by itself within two weeks. With pain medication, the patient can more easily take deep breaths to help the lung re-expand.
The patient may need air removed from the pleural cavity, which allows the lung to expand. This can be done with a needle and syringe, or a hollow plastic tube attached to a suction device.
If treatment is not effective or a serious chest injury is involved, the patient may need surgery to repair a hole in the lung.
People who experience a collapsed lung more than once may need surgery to remove areas of scarring. Surgery or chemical injection can attach the lung to the chest wall to prevent collapse.