The lungs are made up of an elastic tissue that tends to recoil during normal breathing. At the same time, the chest expands and causes negative pressure on the space around the lungs. When certain medical conditions are present, the pressure caused by breathing may cause the bronchial passages to collapse, leaving someone barely able to breathe. Several types of lung collapse and a variety of disorders can lead to the problem.
Primary Spontaneous Pneumothorax
Primary Spontaneous Pneumothorax, or lung collapse, is caused when an air blister develops on the surface of the lung and ruptures. The blisters are usually formed from the high pressure that is brought on during activities like scuba diving, flying, mountain climbing and even listening to loud music. The condition is also brought on after deeply inhaling and exhaling through partly closed lips while smoking marijuana. Sometimes there is no apparent cause for the condition.
Secondary Spontaneous Pneumothorax
Secondary Spontaneous Pneumothorax is seen in individuals who already have a respiratory system disorder, especially in patients who suffer from emphysema. Other health conditions that can lead to secondary spontaneous lung collapse include tuberculosis, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis and lung cancer. This type of bronchial collapse tends to be more severe--even deadly in some cases--due to holes formed from diseased lung tissue.
Traumatic Pneumothorax occurs when an object penetrates and injures the lung tissue, causing bronchial collapse. This condition is usually brought on by trauma to the chest area. Some medical procedures, such as CPR or a lung biopsy, can also cause the problem.
The most serious type of bronchial collapse is Tension Pneumothorax. The condition is caused when the pressure filling the chest cavity is far greater than the outside air pressure. This happens when air becomes trapped in the chest cavity or during positive-pressure mechanical ventilation. The force caused in such situations can cause total lung collapse and could even result in the heart being pushed against the lung. The condition comes on rapidly and must be treated quickly.