The state of being when air leaks out from the lungs to the chest cavity is called collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax. This serious condition is considered as a life-threatening issue. The example cited is the description of a collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax on the left side, but in certain cases, the quantity of air forcing on the lung happens to be very small. It is hardly noticed on imaging tests of a chest, such as CT scan or X-ray.

What Is a Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax?

What is a Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax?

A collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax happens at the time when the air gets leaked into the area between the chest wall and the lungs. The air collapses the lungs by pushing outward. In almost all cases, only one section of the lungs is collapsed.

A piercing or blunt chest injury causes collapsed lung or pneumothorax. Again, it can be the effect of some therapeutic procedures that involves the lungs or damage from any lung related disease that affects lungs. Or there might not be any noticeable grounds. Whatever may be the cause, symptoms are similar: breathing problem and impulsive chest pain.

A simple case of collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax is healed spontaneously, but when it is complex it needs the intervention of doctors who put in a needle or a flexible tube between the ribs in order to take away the surplus air.

Can Pneumonia be the Cause of a Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax?

Certainly, pneumonia might cause collapsed lung or pneumothorax. Besides, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Cystic Fibrosis can also lead to collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax.

What are the Different Types of Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax?

There are two common types of pneumothorax. One is primary collapsed lung or pneumothorax that comes about with no noticeable cause and the other is secondary collapsed lung or pneumothorax that comes about lung pathological deviation. In some cases, damaged tissues form one way valve that increase the quantity of air considerably. This situation leads to Tension collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax which requires medical urgency. It causes shortage of oxygen and leads to low Blood Pressure (BP). Unless treated immediately, the abnormalities can lead to death.

  1. Sponteneous collapsed lung or pneumothorax: No apparent warning sign is evident in case of primay Sponteneous collapsed lung or pneumothorax till a blister separates and causes it; on average the victims feel sharp chest pain and the problem of breathing mostly with secondary sponteneous pneumothorax.
  2. Latrogenic collapsed lung or pneumothorax: Symptoms of this kind of collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax are almost similar to the previous one, but it varies according to age of patient, presence of lung disease and intensity of collapsed lung or pneumothorax.
  3. Tension collapsed lung or pneumothorax: Chest pain, hypotension, dyspnea, and hypoxia are seen in this type of collapsed lung or pneumothorax.
  4. Catamenial collapsed lung or pneumothorax: Women age between 30 and 40 are the sufferers of this kind of collapsed lung or pneumothorax. This happens to them within 2 days of onset of menstruation. It is right-sided collapsed lung or pneumothorax that reappears again and again.
  5. Pneumomediastinum: It is not similar to sponteneous collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax. Symptoms like continuous cough, chest pain, aching throat, breathing problem, dysphagia, vomiting are evident to this type of Pneumothorax.

What Causes a Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax?

The following can be the causes of Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax:

  • Chest Injuries Can Cause Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax: Any penetrating or blunt wound to the chest can be the cause of collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax. Some injuries may be the results of car accidents or physical attack. On the other hand, some injuries may occur accidentally during the process of medical intervention that needs inclusion of needle in the chest.
  • Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax Caused Due to Underlying Lung Diseases: Damaged tissues of lung sometimes bring collapse. The damage might be caused by different kinds of implicit diseases, such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Cystic Fibrosis Pneumonia.
  • Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax Caused Due to Ruptured Air Blisters: Tiny blisters filled with air can develop above the lung and can burst out that allows air to seep out into the surrounding space of the lung. This condition sometimes does not considered as the disease of the lung.
  • Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax Caused Due to Mechanical Ventilation: It is a critical type of collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax and can happen to the people who require mechanical support for breathing. The ventilator, mechanical support, can generate a change of pressure of air in the chest. This might lead to complete collapse of lung, and the heart might be compressed to such an extent that it cannot work well.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax?

General symptoms of a limited collapsed lung or pneumothorax:

  • Acute pain in the chest accompanied by cough while deep breathing.
  • Breathing trouble.
  • Flaring of nasal cavity.

A complex collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax gives rise to more acute symptoms, these are:

  • Skin gets bluish for the shortage of oxygen.
  • Feeling of tightness in the chest.
  • Easy weakness.
  • Fast heart speed.

What are the Risk Factors for Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax?

Risk factors for collapsed lung or pneumothorax include:

  • Sex: Men are more prone to collapsed lung or pneumothorax than women.
  • Smoking: The risk factor for collapsed lung or pneumothorax increases if cigarette smoking is increased even there is no Emphysema.
  • Age: The collapsed lung or pneumothorax caused by air-blisters mostly affects the people of 20 to 40 years. The person who is very tall and underweight is the easy victim.
  • Genetics: Some kinds of collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax might be inherited.
  • Lung Disease: Implicit lung disease chiefly COPD, makes the condition more probable.
  • Mechanical Ventilation: People with mechanical assistance for breathing are open to risk of collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax.
  • A Previous Record of Collapsed Lung (CL) or Pneumothorax: The person with collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax history is prone to attack with the ailment within 1 to 2 years of the first occurrence.

What are the Complications in Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax?

People, who suffer from collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax once, may have another attack within 1 to 2 years. If the cavity in the lung remain open air may pass through it. It needs immediate surgery to close the breach of the air.

What Tests are conducted to Diagnose Collapsed Lung or Pneumothorax?

Normally, the collapsed lung (CL) or pneumothorax is detected by X-ray, but in some other cases, CT scan (Computerized Tomography) may help to provide detail information. When CT scan and X-ray images are combined, they create cross -sectional analysis of the inner structure.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: December 24, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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