What Is a Collapsed Lung?

Written by faith davies
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A pneumothorax, or collapsed lung, is a condition that occurs when air enters the space between your lungs and chest, causing pressure on your lung. Although a collapsed lung causes uncomfortable symptoms, it is usually easily treatable.


Depending on the amount of pressure exerted to your lung, you may suffer a total or partial lung collapse. This refers to whether or not the injury affects the entire organ or just a section.


Possible causes of a collapsed lung include rare genetic weaknesses of the lungs, pressure due to scuba diving or mountain climbing, smoking marijuana, lung diseases like tuberculosis or emphysema, knife or gunshot wounds, sudden trauma to your chest or improper use of a ventilator.


Symptoms of a collapsed lung include a sudden, sharp pain on one side of the upper portion of your chest, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and tightness in your chest. Partial collapses typically present symptoms of lesser intensity than full collapses.


Though very rare and usually associated only with ventilator-induced cases, lung collapses pose several threats, including life-threatening shortages of oxygen in your bloodstream, cardiac arrest, respiratory failure leading to unconsciousness and shock.

Common Treatment

For cases where the collapse affects less than 20 per cent of your lung, your doctor is likely to allow your body to heal from the condition on its own with no intervention. Otherwise, a needle or chest tube is likely to be inserted to remove excess air,


If your doctor determines that an air leak in your chest is responsible for the collapse, it may be necessary to undergo surgery to correct the cause of the leak.

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