Chest pain and shortness of breath can be symptoms of many complications that require medical treatment. Pneumothorax is one of these complications that can be treated by doctors. Pneumothorax is simply a collapsed lung. A number of things can happen to cause a pneumothorax including: trauma to the chest, previously damaged lung tissue, or the rupture of air blisters called blebs (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2014).
The lungs and thoracic cavity are lined with visceral pleura and parietal pleura respectively. The space between the two layers, called the pleural space, is filled with a lubricant that holds the lungs and thorax together. When a pneumothorax occurs, a hole is made in the lung and air escapes into the pleural space. This causes a change in pressure that causes the lung to collapse (Chandrasekhar, n.d.). There are varying degrees of a pneumothorax that should all be treated by a doctor. If symptoms arise, particularly after a trauma to the chest, the individual should go to the emergency room.
Trauma to the chest, previously damaged lung tissue, or the rupture of blebs are all causes of a pneumothorax. Trauma includes any blunt force trauma to the chest or surgery involving the thorax. Damaged tissue can be a result of many different lung conditions. Blebs can form for many different reasons and can cause a spontaneous pneumothorax. There are risk factors that increase the chances or having a pneumothorax. Males typically are more likely to have a pneumothorax. Height to weight ratio, age, genetics and several other characteristics can affect the chances of a pneumothorax. One study on spontaneous pneumothorax, studying 214 patients, found the mean age to be 38.8 years of age (Uramoto, Shimokawa, & Tanaka, 2012). An article from Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research also says that a pneumothorax is more likely to occur in people ages 20-40 (2014).
Pneumothorax can be treated and should be done so quickly. Depending on the severity of the collapsed lung, different procedures may be done to correct it. If only a small portion of the lung has collapsed, observation and periodic chest x-rays may be done to monitor the self-repair of the lung. Oxygen may be given to the patient to help the process. A full collapsed lung will require a chest tube or needle to remove the excess air between the lung and the thoracic cavity. A chest tube will be inserted between two ribs and is often connected to a machine that suctions the excess air out. A needle, also inserted between two ribs, can be used to remove the air from the chest cavity “just like a syringe is used to pull blood from a vein (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2014).” A chest tube may need to be left in for several days before the lung is completely reinflated. During this time the patient would need to be hospitalized. If a chest tube fails, surgery is the next procedure that should be done to repair the...