If there is a very small lung collapse then you can live with it. Pneumothorax is a very serious disease, which must be treated urgently as soon as recognized by your physician, because it is a life-threatening condition. However, these therapeutical measures will depend on the severity of it, since in case of small lung collapse the doctor wait until it is reabsorbed spontaneously.
Collapsed lung or pneumothorax is a condition that occurs when air enters the space between the wall of the chest and the lung (pleural space). As the air increases, the pressure inside the pleural space increases and causes the pneumothorax. The pressure also prevents the lung from expanding when you try to inhale, causing chest pain and shortness of breath.
There is not supposed to be air between the chest and the lung. When air escapes from the lung to the thoracic layer or from outside to the lung, that is a collapsed lung or pneumothorax.
Types of Collapsed Lung
There are two types of collapsed lung, the primary spontaneous and the secondary.
Children and young boys are more propense to spontaneous collapsed lung. This type of lung collapse can occur for no apparent reason and is very rare. In the United States, it appears in 7 per 100,000 men and 1 in 100,000 women. It can occur, probably, because the person has a slight birth defect; they had a bubble of air at birth where the two membranes are separated. In this case, the collapsed lung or pneumothorax can occur at any time, either when the person is at rest or exerting a greater effort.
In those patients, the probability that another pulmonary collapse occurs again is 25%. What doctors do know is that if they smoke, the risk increases. It could also be a factor of inheritance.
There are certain factors that predispose and may increase the risk of having a primary spontaneous collapsed lung. These are children or young people suffering from asthma, cystic fibrosis and those who have had necrotizing pneumonia. There are very rare cases of catamenial pneumothorax, which occurs in association with menstruation.
Spontaneous collapsed lung is seen more often in men than in women, and although it is seen in tall, thin men, this does not mean that it is a risk factor.
The secondary collapsed lung occurs in adults. The risk factors are smoking, having chronic lung disease, a patient with any type of lung cancer, pneumonia or tuberculosis. There are other groups of people who are at risk, those who inhale cocaine, those who smoke marijuana, patients with asthma or those who have suffered some trauma.
If the collapse is total, the doctor would put you a chest tube, a tube that draws the air from inside the chest. But if it is not complete, if it is small, it is observed to see if it reabsorbs itself. In those cases that the lung does not expand spontaneously, it would be necessary to operate it, open the chest to stick the lung to the rib cage.
Symptoms of Collapsed Lung
When a lung collapse occurs for the first time, you may feel a sharp pain in your chest that gets worse when you a cough. You may also have trouble breathing or shortness of breath.
You may experience more symptoms if the collapse affects a larger portion of your lung. These symptoms include fast heart rate, a feeling of tightness in the chest; get tired easily, the bluish tone of the skin, low blood pressure, nostrils flared when breathing.
Tests and Exams for Collapsed Lung
The doctor will listen to your lungs with a medical device called stethoscope while asking you to inhale deeply and exhale. If your lung has collapsed, your doctor will have trouble hearing the lung sounds of the affected lung. The doctor will examine the lung segments to determine where the collapse has occurred.
Your doctor may also order imaging tests to better examine your lungs. Frequently, a chest x-ray is used to diagnose a collapsed lung. The doctor may also perform a CT scan to see the affected lung in more detail.