A collapsed lung occurs when air enters the space between the lung and the chest wall in the pleural space. A total collapse is called a pneumothorax. A partial collapse is called atelectasis.
A collapsed lung can occur as the result of an injury to the lung. In some cases, a collapsed lung is caused by air blisters (blebs) that break open, sending air into the space around the lung. This can result from air pressure changes such as when scuba diving or traveling to a high altitude.
Tall, thin people and smokers are more at risk for a collapsed lung.
Some lung diseases increase the chance of getting a collapsed lung. These include:
Note: This condition requires emergency care. Please visit an emergency room immediately if you suspect you may have a collapsed lung.
Symptoms of a collapsed lung include:
A larger pneumothorax causes more severe symptoms, including:
A Deborah physician will listen to the patient’s breathing with a stethoscope. If a lung is collapsed, the doctor will hear decreased breath sounds or no breath sounds on the affected side. Blood pressure can also be lower than normal.
Other tests that may be ordered include: