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What is a Pneumothorax?

A pneumothorax is collection of air or gas in space surrounding the lungs. The space surrounding the lungs is called pleural space. Pleural space is lined by a smooth membrane called pleura. The pleura normally are in contact with each other, but they can become separated when air, fluid or blood collects between them.

A pneumothorax is also called: collapsed lung, air around the lung, and air outside the lung.

Types of Pneumothorax 

There are several types of pneumothorax. The types are classified by cause.

  • Spontaneous pneumothorax is characterized by the occurrence of pneumothorax without a clear cause. Cigarette smoking and family history are contributing factors to spontaneous pneumothorax.
  • Primary spontaneous pneumothorax occurs when there is no known underlying lung disease. It is thought to be caused by the rupture of a small, air-filled sac in the lung called a bleb or a bulla.
  • Secondary spontaneous pneumothorax Is a complication of underlying lung disease, such as COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, and whooping cough.
  • Traumatic pneumothorax Is caused by a traumatic injury to the chest. The injury might be caused by a stab wound, gunshot,blow from a motor vehicle accident.
  • Tension pneumothorax Is caused when excessive pressure builds up around the lung, forcing it to collapse. The excessive pressure can also prevent the heart from pumping blood effectively, leading to shock.

Symptoms of Pneumothorax

Common symptoms of pneumothorax are:

  • sudden sharp chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness
  • easy fatigue
  • rapid heart rate
  • bluish color of the skin

Can Pneumothorax be Treated?

Yes. Treatment often involves removal of the air from the pleural space. When air is removed, the lung is able to to re-expand. Surgery may be needed to prevent recurrent episodes.

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