What is Pneumothorax?
Pneumothorax is also known as a collapsed lung. It is the collection of air in the space around the lungs, putting pressure on the lung so that it cannot expand as much as it normally does.
A collapsed lung may result from chest trauma or from certain activities like smoking, scuba diving and high altitude flying.
Sometimes a collapsed lung can occur without any cause, and this is called a spontaneous pneumothorax.
How common is Pneumothorax?
Spontaneous pneumothorax is more common in males than in females, and smokers have an increased risk of the condition. However, death from pneumothorax is very uncommon.
What are the symptoms of Pneumothorax?
There may not be any symptoms, but almost everyone who has a collapsed lung suffers from sharp chest pain and shortness of breath. A larger pneumothorax will cause easy fatigue, bluish skin colour and a rapid heart rate.
How is Pneumothorax treated?
A small pneumothorax may not need treatment, other than oxygen and rest. You may need to have the extra air pulled out of the lung by a needle to allow the lung to expand.
A large pneumothorax will require a chest tube to be placed between the ribs into the space around the lungs to drain the air. This will be left in for several days.
In more serious cases, lung surgery may be needed.
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