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 available for treating a collapsed lung that is the result of a pneumothorax including:

  • Needle aspiration of air (typically used to treat a small pneumothorax)
  • Insertion of a chest tube with suction (usually performed to treat a large pneumothorax)
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Surgery (if other methods are not successful)

Atelectasis treatment options to re-inflate a collapsed lung

Treatment of atelectasis, or collapse of the small air sacs in the lungs, depends on the cause. In some cases when only a small area of the lungs has collapsed, the condition may resolve on its own. If treatment is necessary, options include:

  • Acetylcysteine (Acetacote, Mucomyst) to thin mucus and make it easier to cough up mucus
  • Bronchodilators to expand airways, such as albuterol (ProAir, Proventil, Ventolin) and levalbuterol (Xopenex)
  • Bronchoscopy (procedure used to remove airway blockages)
  • Chest physical therapy (CPT) to help clear mucus
  • Incentive spirometer (device used to measure deep breathing)
  • Positive pressure device, such as positive expiratory pressure (PEP)

What are the potential complications of a collapsed lung?

Complications of an untreated collapsed lung can be serious, even life threatening in some cases. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of collapsed lung include:

  • Hypoxia (low levels of oxygen in the blood)
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure and respiratory arrest
  • Shock

References:

  1. Atelectasis. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001130/.
  2. Collapsed lung (pneumothorax). PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001151/
  3. Tierney LM Jr., Saint S, Whooley MA (Eds.) Current Essentials of Medicine (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.
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

SYMPTOMS

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... Read more about collapsed lungsymptoms

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

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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