A pneumothorax is a lung that has collapsed. When air leaks into the space between your lung and chest wall, it’s called a pneumothorax. Air pushes against the outside of your lung, causing it to collapse. A pneumothorax can be a complete lung collapse or a partial lung collapse.
A pneumothorax can be caused by a blunt or penetrating chest injury, certain medical procedures, or lung disease. It could also happen for no apparent reason. Typical symptoms include severe chest pain and shortness of breath. A collapsed lung can be life-threatening in some cases.
A pneumothorax is distinguished by sudden chest pain and shortness of breath. The severity of the symptoms may be determined by how much of the lung has collapsed.
When should you see a doctor?
Pneumothorax symptoms can be caused by a variety of health issues, some of which are life-threatening, so seek medical attention. If your chest pain is severe or breathing becomes increasingly difficult, seek emergency medical attention right away.
A chest injury can result in a pneumothorax. Any injury to your chest, whether blunt or penetrating, can result in lung collapse. Some injuries may occur as a result of physical assaults or car accidents, while others may occur inadvertently during medical procedures involving the insertion of a needle into the chest.
Disease of the lungs. Lung tissue that has been damaged is more likely to collapse. Many underlying diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, or pneumonia, can cause lung damage. Cystic lung diseases, such as lymphangioleiomyomatosis and Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, cause round, thin-walled air sacs in the lung tissue, which can rupture and cause pneumothorax.
Ruptured air blisters
On the top of the lungs, small air blisters (blebs) can form. These air blisters can burst, allowing air to enter the space around the lungs.
People who require mechanical ventilation may experience a severe type of pneumothorax. The ventilator can cause an imbalance in the chest’s air pressure. The lung may completely collapse.
In general, men are far more likely than women to suffer from a pneumothorax. Pneumothorax caused by ruptured air blisters is most common in people between the ages of 20 and 40, especially if the person is very tall and underweight. A pneumothorax can be caused or exacerbated by underlying lung disease or mechanical ventilation. Other risk factors are as follows:
Smoking. Even in the absence of emphysema, the risk increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes smoked.
Genetics. Certain types of pneumothorax appear to be hereditary.
Pneumothorax in the past. Anyone who has had one pneumothorax is more likely to have another.
Complications can occur depending on the size and severity of the pneumothorax, as well as the cause and treatment. If the opening in the lung does not close properly, air may continue to leak, and the pneumothorax may reoccur.