Collapsed Lung Symptoms


Small Cell Carcinoma

Collapsed Lung Symptoms

Collapsed Lung Symptoms

Collapsed lung symptoms can be a result of two different medical conditions.

What are the most common collapsed lung symptoms for each of these conditions? Read on.

Pneumothorax occurs when gas or air collects in the chest’s pleural cavity (between the chest wall and the lung).  It can happen instantly in those with no predisposing chronic lung conditions as well as those with lung disease.  It often occurs following blast injury, physical chest trauma or as a complication from medical treatment.

The collapsed lung symptoms as they relate to pneumothorax are dependent on how large the air leak is and how fast it happens.  They can include shortness of breath and pain in the chest.    In severe cases a physical examination can be used for diagnosis; in milder cases, x-rays or CT (computed tomography) scans are used.  In a small number of cases, severe oxygen shortage results, along with low blood pressure, which requires treatment – in order to prevent cardiac arrest.  This is referred to as “tension pneumothorax”.

Minor cases of pneumothorax typically resolve without outside interference and thus do not require treatment, particularly in those who have no lung disease.  In major cases or when the symptomatic manifestation is serious, air may be removed with a one way chest tube or a syringe. Sometimes, measures such as surgery are used if a tube is not successful, or the person suffers multiple episodes.

Atelectasis can also result in collapsed lung symptoms.  It is defined as a lack of gas exchanging in the alveoli, as  a result of fluid consolidation or alveolar collapse.  One lung may be affected in whole or in part.  It is commonly found in radiological assessment, such as chest x-rays.  It can be caused by normal exhalation or other medical conditions.  It is not the same thing as pneumothorax (see above).  In its acute form, it may be a result of post-operative complications, or be due to surfactant deficiency.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Relatively minor cough
  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain in the chest
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low saturation of oxygen
  • Pleural effussion
  • Cyanosis

Though not extensive, the above article has outlined the two most common conditions and their manifestations which fall under the blanket term of “collapsed lung symptoms”.