Pneumothorax, more commonly known as collapsed lung, is a potentially life threatening condition characterized by infiltration of air between the ribs and the chest pushing the lungs such that it collapses. As a result of this collapse, the affected individual finds it extremely hard to breathe resulting in inadequate supply of oxygen to the vital organs of the body.
An individual with Pneumothorax will require emergent medical treatment depending on the size of the Pneumothorax and the underlying cause of it. Minor cases of Pneumothorax heal on their own within a matter of a few days whereas a Pneumothorax requires procedures in the form of chest tube insertion to suck out the excess air so that the lung is able to take in normal air required by the body for functioning.
The decision whether an individual with Pneumothorax will require a hospital stay depends on the size and cause of the Pneumothorax.
What Causes Pneumothorax?
Some of the common causes of Pneumothorax are:
Chest Injury: An injury or direct trauma to the chest is one of the most common causes for development of a Pneumothorax. A chest injury may be caused by a motor vehicle collision in which the steering wheel hits the chest hard. Pneumothorax can also be caused by an act of violence such as a stab or a gunshot wound to the chest can also result in the development of Pneumothorax. An injury to the chest may also occur during a surgical procedure to the chest or surrounding areas causing a Pneumothorax.
Lung Disorders: Certain medical conditions of the lung may also cause the development of Pneumothorax. A lung that is diseased or damaged is more than likely to collapse than a normal lung. Medical conditions like COPD, cystic fibrosis, or pneumonia is more likely to cause a Pneumothorax.
Mechanical Ventilation: An individual who has been on mechanical ventilation for a prolonged period of time for breathing purposes gets predisposed in developing Pneumothorax. The reason behind this is the imbalance of air pressure due to the ventilator within the chest causing the lung to collapse resulting in Pneumothorax.
Apart from the above causes that can lead to Pneumothorax, there are also certain Risk Factors mentioned below which can predispose an individual towards development of a Pneumothorax. These risk factors are:
Sex: Studies have found that males are more likely to get a Pneumothorax than females.
Tobacco Use: An individual abusing tobacco is more likely to get a Pneumothorax than an individual who does not.
Genetic Makeup: It has been noted that there have been cases when an individual with a family history of Pneumothorax goes on to develop one. This proves a genetic link to the development of a Pneumothorax.
Previous History of Pneumothorax: An individual with a prior history of Pneumothorax is more likely to get a recurrence of a condition despite successful treatment within the first two years post treatment of Pneumothorax.