Pneumothorax is simply the presence of air in the chest. It involves the buildup of air around the lung which places pressure on the lung and causes it to collapse. The condition is a common condition among individuals with serious blunt chest trauma as well as those with chronic lung disease.
What are the types?
- Simple – this form of pneumothorax occurs if air escapes the lung and ends up trapped amidst the lining of the chest wall and sac bordering the lungs.
- Tension – in this type, the pressure of the air in the chest can result to shortness of breath and might result to obstructive shock from the pressure applied on the heart as well as the large blood vessels.
- Spontaneous – this might be a simple form but might progress into the tension form if not treated
What are the indications?
The usual signs of pneumothorax include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Reduced lung sounds on the affected side
Among those who develop the tension type, the lungs sounds are significantly diminished, possibly absent while the blood pressure starts to drop due to the obstructive shock.
Management of pneumothorax
Any type of chest injury that is followed by shortness of breath must be assessed by a doctor. For severe shortness of breath after an injury, call for emergency assistance.
The simple form can become self-limiting if not treated. As for the tension type, it is considered dangerous and requires prompt treatment. Call for emergency assistance if the tension type is likely or if the individual sustained a chest injury.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on a pneumothorax is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs and how it is treated, register for a first aid and CPR course with Ottawa First Aid.