A collapsed lung
(pneumothorax) is a buildup of air in the space between the lung and the chest
wall (pleural space). As the amount of air in this space increases, the
pressure against the lung causes the lung to collapse. This prevents your lung
from expanding properly when you try to breathe in, causing shortness of breath
and chest pain.
A pneumothorax may become life-threatening if
the pressure in your chest prevents the lungs from getting enough oxygen into
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pneumothorax may only require observation by your
doctor; in some cases, oxygen may be given (through a mask). More
serious cases are treated by inserting a needle or a chest tube into the chest
cavity. Both of these procedures relieve the pressure on the lung and allow it
Surgery may be needed if the original treatment does
not work or if the pneumothorax returns.
What are the chances that a pneumothorax will return?
If you have had one pneumothorax, you have an increased risk for another.
Nearly all recurrences happen within 2 years of the first pneumothorax. If you
smoke, quitting smoking can reduce your risk of another pneumothorax.