A collapsed lung happens when air enters the pleural space, the area between the lung and the chest wall. If it is a total collapse, it is called pneumothorax. If only part of the lung is affected, it is called atelectasis.

Causes of a collapsed lung include

  • Lung diseases such as pneumonia or lung cancer
  • Being on a breathing machine
  • Surgery on the chest or abdomen
  • A blocked airway

If only a small area of the lung is affected, you may not have symptoms. If a large area is affected, you may feel short of breath and have a rapid heart rate.

A chest x-ray can tell if you have it. Treatment depends on the underlying cause.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Symptoms of Collapsed Lung

The following features are indicative of Collapsed Lung:
  • sudden chest pain
  • shortness of breath
It is possible that Collapsed Lung shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Collapsed Lung

The following are the most common causes of Collapsed Lung:
  • pneumonia
  • lung cancer
  • being continuously on ventilator
  • surgery on the chest
  • surgery on the abdomen
  • a blocked airway

Other Causes of Collapsed Lung

The following are the less common causes of Collapsed Lung:
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Risk Factors for Collapsed Lung

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Collapsed Lung:
  • smoking
  • having an underlying lung disease
  • individuals who need mechanical ventilation

Prevention of Collapsed Lung

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Collapsed Lung. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • get routine chest X-ray check-up
  • use ultrasound guidance

Occurrence of Collapsed Lung

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Collapsed Lung cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Common between 1 - 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Collapsed Lung most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 20-50 years

Common Gender

Collapsed Lung can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Collapsed Lung

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Collapsed Lung:
  • Chest X-ray: To provide more-detailed images
  • Computerized tomography scan: To produce cross-sectional views of internal structures

Doctor for Diagnosis of Collapsed Lung

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Collapsed Lung:
  • Pulmonologist
  • Thoracic surgeon

Complications of Collapsed Lung if untreated

Yes, Collapsed Lung causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Collapsed Lung is left untreated:
  • collapse of the lung tissue
  • can be fatal
  • severe dyspnea
  • shock
  • life-threatening respiratory failure
  • circulatory collapse

Procedures for Treatment of Collapsed Lung

The following procedures are used to treat Collapsed Lung:
  • Needle or chest tube insertion: To remove air from the chest cavity
  • Surgery: To close the air leak

Self-care for Collapsed Lung

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Collapsed Lung:
  • Quit smoking: Helps avoid symptoms from worsening

Time for Treatment of Collapsed Lung

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Collapsed Lung to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 1 - 4 weeks

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Collapsed Lung.
Chest Injuries and Disorders
Lung Diseases
Pleural Disorders

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