What are the symptoms of a collapsed lung?

A collapsed lung is a deflation of the lungs, which affects normal breathing and leads to chest pain. Symptoms vary depending on whether the lung collapse is due to air between the chest wall and lungs (pneumothorax) or deflation of the small air sacs (alveoli) within the lungs (atelectasis). Symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.

Symptoms of a collapsed lung due to pneumothorax

A collapsed lung due to pneumothorax is associated with a number of symptoms that may become severe at any time including:

  • Bluish coloration of the lips or fingernails
  • Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Nasal flaring to inhale more air
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea) or shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Severe pain in the chest or shoulder

Symptoms of a collapsed lung due to atelectasis

A collapsed lung due to atelectasis may manifest a number of symptoms, which may become severe at any time. Examples include:

  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea) or shortness of breath
  • Shallow breathing

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, a collapsed lung can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Bluish coloration of the lips or fingernails
  • Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
  • Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure, palpitations
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Respiratory or breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, wheezing, not breathing, or choking

INTRODUCTION

What is a collapsed lung?

A collapsed lung is the deflation of some or all of a lung, resulting in difficulty breathing, chest pain, and low oxygen in the blood (hypoxia). Collapsed lung can refer to a pneumothorax, an accumulation of air in the chest that prevents the lungs from expanding fully, or to atelectasis, deflation of the tiny air sacs (alveoli) within the lungs.

More specifically, a pneumothorax be... Read more about collapsed lungintroduction

CAUSES

What causes a collapsed lung?

A collapsed lung is the deflation of some or all of a lung, resulting in difficulty breathing, chest pain, and low oxygen in the blood (hypoxia). Collapsed lung can refer to pneumothorax, an accumulation of air within the chest cavity, which prevents the lungs from expanding fully, or atelectasis, a deflation of the tiny air sacs (alveoli) within the lungs.

A collapsed lung resulti... Read more about collapsed lungcauses

TREATMENTS

How is a collapsed lung treated?

Treatment for a collapsed lung begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. The goal of treatment for a collapsed lung is to re-inflate the collapsed lung to ease breathing and improve oxygenation. Treatment depends on the severity of the collapsed lung and the cause.

Pneumothorax treatment options to re-inflate a collapsed lung

Multiple options are ... Read more about collapsed lungtreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Lungs, Breathing and Respiration


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