Collapsed Lung Treatment

Updated February 12, 2018

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.

Initial Treatment

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.

Air Removal

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.

Recurrent Problems

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.

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About the Author

Shelley Moore is a journalist and award-winning short-story writer. She specializes in writing about personal development, health, careers and personal finance. Moore has been published in "Family Circle" magazine and the "Milwaukee Sentinel" newspaper, along with numerous other national and regional magazines, daily and weekly newspapers and corporate publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in psychology.