Collapsed lung treatment

A collapsed lung, medically called a pneumothorax, is the term used for when the space between the lung and the wall of the chest cavity, called the pleural space, fills up with air. This air puts pressure on the lung and causes part of, or the entire lung to collapse. Air usually enters the pleural space through either a hole in the lung or some sort of injury to the chest cavity or chest wall. There are two different types of collapsed lungs, simple and tension.

A simple pneumothorax or collapsed lung is the term for a partial collapse. The pressure that has built up in the pleural space isn’t enough to cause the entire lung to collapse, nor is it enough to cause any kind of cardiovascular dysfunction. However, the collapsed lung can still be a major concern. For example, if the lung has collapsed too much, it may result in a severe decrease in the amount of oxygen in the blood. This can result in a shortness of breath when doing anything, even walking. Often, a simple pneumothorax can start out as a small issue and can be fairly stable. In fact, no emergency treatment is necessary. The condition must be monitored closely, though, because it may worsen. A simple pneumothorax may become more complicated over time, or it can suddenly worsen.

A tension pneumothorax is when the air has built up with such pressure that it completely collapses one or both lungs. This is a very serious and severe condition that can cause your cardiovascular system to completely shut down. The collapsed lungs are not able to pump blood back to the heart, meaning there is less blood to pump out. This causes blood pressure to rapidly fall, and without blood pumping through the body, all major organs quickly start to become affected. If no treatment is received right away, brain damage, heart damage, or even death can occur.

How is a collapsed lung treated? If the simple pneumothorax has occurred because of a fractured rib or other blunt trauma, you can hold a pillow against your chest. This creates a splint for the fracture and can help your breathing be less labored and less painful. Don’t tape your chest or ribs because this can make it harder for you to breath, which results in even more stress on your system. It is important that you get medical help as soon as possible because this will only help in the short term.

When medical help arrives, there are several different options. A simple pneumothorax may be treated with a chest tube at first, then hospitalization to stabilize any broken bones or fractures. If the simple pneumothorax is small and doesn’t seem to be expanding, several different inhalation techniques can be performed. These techniques can help to re-inflate the collapsed lung section. Another option is to use a catheter to suck out the air in the pleural space. Finally, if the lung has collapsed multiple times and no other options seem to work, it can be surgically attached to the chest wall to keep it inflated.

A tension pneumothorax can also be treated by sucking out the air in the pleural space using a syringe or catheter. A chest tube may also be used to help keep the lung inflated. This tube may need to stay inserted for several days for treatment to be completely successful.

After a collapsed lung has been repaired, you’ll need to have several outpatient exams and x-rays for several months to make certain that everything is proceeding as it should be. Eventually, if all goes as planned, you will be able to return to doing all the activities you enjoyed before the lung collapsed.

Last updated on Feb 9th, 2010 and filed under Respiratory Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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