Spontaneous pneumothorax, or a collapsed lung, is a dangerous condition that is suffered more frequently by men than women, according to the NIH: National Institutes of Health.

What is spontaneous pneumothorax?

Spontaneous pneumothorax refers to a collapsed lung, or portion of the lung. It occurs when air leaks out of the lungs into the space between your lungs and the chest wall (known as the pleural space). The leaked air on the outside of the lungs then pushes on it causing it to collapse.

This condition can prove fatal if not addressed right away because the collapsed lung puts severe pressure on the heart and surrounding veins.

Common symptoms to watch out for when someone may be suffering from a collapsed lung include:

  • Sudden shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • A sudden and severe cough
  • Rapidly increasing heartbeat, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • A blue or purplish tint to the skin signifying a lack of oxygen

What can cause a collapsed lung?

A spontaneous pneumothorax can be caused by a variety of things, or it may alternately occur for no apparent reason.  The majority of spontaneous pneumothorax occur in young, thin men.

Other factors like genetics, smoking, and lung disease (for example: COPD, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, or pneumonia) may also contribute to spontaneous pneumothorax.

A collapsed lung is usually diagnosed by a chest X-ray or CT scan in the ER or urgent care.

How is a collapsed lung treated?

It is essential to get medical help immediately if you suspect you are suffering from a collapsed lung. Common treatment involves a thoracic surgeon expertly inserting a fine needle or tube into the chest to remove the excess or leaked air.

It is possible to have recurrent spontaneous pneumothorax. Should this occur, thoracic surgeons can offer surgical intervention to prevent future episodes.

For questions about any of our vascular, cardiac, or thoracic services, please visit ctvstexas.com or call us at (512) 459-8753 to schedule an appointment.

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