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Symptoms of a partially collapsed lung

Updated April 17, 2017

Partially collapsed lung is caused when air fills the space between the wall of the chest cavity and the lung, causing the lung to collapse. The more severe condition of collapsed lung is caused by a traumatic event, such as an injury to the chest wall or a hole in the lung. A partially collapsed lung, though, often occurs spontaneously and without warning.

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There are two types of collapsed lungs--tension pneumothorax, which is the more severe version of collapsed lung; and simple pneumothorax, or partially collapsed lung. In the simple or spontaneous pneumothorax, the pressure caused by the introduction of air between the chest cavity and lung isn't severe enough to cause serious damage to the cardiovascular system.


Causes for partially collapsed lungs can involve activities or lifestyles that will, over time, destroy or weaken the lungs. This includes risky behaviour such as smoking cigarettes or using and abusing drugs. It can also be caused by other serious types of respiratory problems, especially if these problems have not, in the long term, been properly treated.


Symptoms for partially collapsed lung can include: severe chest pains, breathing problems and coughing. Anyone experiencing any one of these symptoms should consult a physician.


Unlike the more severe form of collapsed lung, a partially collapsed lung doesn't require surgical treatment. In fact, over time, the condition will improve without treatment. Still, a physician should be consulted to monitor the progress of the lung's condition. There is always the possibility that prolonged problems can slowly lead to more serious problems with the cardiovascular system. In such cases, surgical treatment will be necessary.


There are direct things one can do to prevent a spontaneous partially collapsed lung. This can include cutting out lifestyle behaviours that cause it---smoking and drug use---and seeking treatment for any other non-related respiratory problems.

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