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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder Community
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Please describe your experience with pneumothorax.

Picture of Collapsed Lung (Pneumothorax)      What Is a Collapsed Lung (Pneumothorax)?A collapsed lung or pneumothorax refers to a condition in which the space between the wall of the chest cavity and the lung itself fills with air, causing all or a portion of the lung to collapse. Air usually enters this space, called the pleural space, through an injury to the chest wall or a hole in the lung. This result is called a pneumothorax, which is the medical term for a collapsed lung.What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Collapsed Lung?Symptoms of collapsed lung include sharp, stabbing chest pain that worsens on breathing or with deep inhalation that often radiates to the shoulder and or back; and a dry, hacking cough. In severe cases a person may go into shock, which is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical treatment. See a doctor for any type of chest pain or suspected pneumothorax.What Causes a Collapsed Lung?Causes of collapsed lung include trauma to the chest cavity (fractured rib, penetrating trauma from a bullet, knife, or other sharp object), cigarette smoking, drug abuse, and certain lung diseases. Sometimes, the lung may collapse without an apparent injury, called spontaneous pneumothorax.What Are the Types of Pneumothoraces?There are two types of pneumothorax, tension and simple.How Is a Collapsed Lung Treated?Pneumothorax is usually treated with removal of air under pressure, by inserting a needle attached to a syringe into the chest cavity. A chest tube may be used and left in place for several days. In some cases, surgery may be needed.What Is the Outlook for Collapsed Lung?The prognosis of pneumothorax depends on its cause. In most cases once the pneumothorax has healed, there is no long-term effect on health, but spontaneous pneumothorax can recur in up to 50% of people.
71 Responses
Avatar universal
I was recently unfortunately able to experience a pneumothorax.  I fell down some stairs, fracturing three ribs and collapsing my lung.  When I got to the hospital, the lung was 20% collapsed.  By the time I was seen, it had gotten to 75% collapsed.  A chest tube was placed. A couple days later, I was released and went home. I had many problems in the days to come. The Percocet wasn't enough to treat the pain.  After going to the hospital a number of times, I was finally put on Dilaudid.
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I am still recovering from a spontaneous pneumothorax. I was home for six days with a tube in my chest, which was not fun. After that did not work, I went in for surgery where they removed a part of my lung and scuffed up my chest wall to re-stick the lung to the wall. Apparently, spontaneous pneumothorax can be hereditary. My dad, my brother, and I have all had it; the only difference was that I had it on my left side, and they had it on their right side. If you experience any symptoms, go to the ER right away!
Avatar universal
I had a pneumothorax during an interventional radiology procedure to place a port-catheter for chemotherapy.  It wasn't big ("7%"), but it hurt a lot.  The doctor placed a thin tube; 6 days and 5 xrays later it wasn't much better; he moved the tube, suctioned some air and sent me home again.  The next day he said it was resolved and took the tube out.  The tube itself was very painful for 2-3 days when it was placed, then again when it was moved.  Intermittent neck swelling also resulted from air movement.  After the tube came out (one week ago), I continue to have jabbing pains in my chest.  I was relieved to read on this website that, "Some scarring to the pleura develops after treatment and can result in intermittent, sharp, localized, chest pain over the short term."  I look forward to this pain going away altogether so I can finally calm down.
Avatar universal
I have had my lung collasped 5 times. The first 3 times were minor ones were I needed strong pain meds. By the 4th time I needed a chest tube which is one of the most uncomfortable things to have. The tube sticks out of the side of your chest right below the armpit next to the boob. Its hooked up to a machine and you can see the "fluid"-blood draning out. You can only be unhooked from the machine for about 20 minutes. When you have to go to the bathroom a nurse has to come in and unhook it and rehook it up when you're done. Not even a month later of having the chest tube my lung collasped the 5th time in which I needed lung surgery. A bubble was forming around my lung which needed to be removed and after sugury I needed the chest tube again. 18 years old...it sucked.
Avatar universal
I had spontaneous pneumothorax. (I woke up, coughed and it went downhill from there!) I just got back from the hospital after being there 6 days.I  had a drain put into me to release the air from around the lung as the first needle did not release enough air. In the end it became infected, hence the resaon I was in absolute agony with it for 5 days. This was not a nice experience at all and would never want this to happen to my worst enemy. It was that bad.
Avatar universal
I had the very nasty experience of a spontaneous pneumothorax about 6 weeks ago. I would not wish the pain I went through on my worst enemy. Having that drain in my side is a pain only another sufferer could understand! I was 3 days with the drain in my left side and still feel that I have not yet fully recovered although I have now returned to work (no physical work yet).  I have no idea what caused it but have been told that it could happen again. I would anything on Earth to avoit it.
Avatar universal
I have had no less than 10 pheumothoraxes in the last 14 years, sometimes having up to 3 in one year. My left lung has always collapsed at night while sleeping. As soon as I awake, I know "due to the pain". It feels like there is something large and heavy rubbing against my chest wall, and breathing can be painful but for me taking shallow breaths did help. Depending how bad the pain was, I usually ended up in the hospital other times. I have rested at home in bed for about a week taking pain killers. I had key-hole surgery five years ago, which I thought had done the trick, but unfortunately I had three pneumothoraxes in the last 13 months.
Avatar universal
I just got back from the hospital where I was earlier today.  I went in thinking I was having a heart attack but was told it was a small (5%) spontaneous Pneumo.  I was told to go easy for the next couple of weeks, but after reading what you all have gone through I definitely do not want this to get any worse.  I am sure it would have progressed if I didn't go to the hospital and get a diagnosis. Lesson learned: go to the ER if you are in serious pain.
Avatar universal
Both of my children were born with pneumothoraxes. My son, first, with both of lungs completely collapsed and he had to stay in the hospital a week under an oxygen saucer. My daughter, second, (14 months later) with one lung partially collapsed. They still have no idea why it happened to either of them and now at 2 and 3 years old they both started having problems with asthma. We are worried about bigger problems popping up now.
Avatar universal
I am 26 and had a spontaneous collapse last year. I woke up, went to the toilet, felt a pain in my right shoulder blade which got worse in maybe 60 seconds. Within minutes I was curled up in a ball at the bottom of the stairs in agony calling an ambulance. Shallow breaths helped, but it was the worst pain I ever experienced. Days earlier I had started to get bouts of dizziness which disappeared afterwards, prior to the collapse my doctor told me the dizziness was vertigo. I think he was wrong, dizziness can also be due to a lack of oxygen! However I fit the bill for the condition as I am tall, thin to medium build, under 30 years, ex smoker and I had used cocaine in my past, maybe I should have saw it coming. Anyway six days in hospital on a drain and one year later it hasn't happened again, and please god it won't. I hope someone can benefit from my story.
Avatar universal
I had pneumothorax happen to me 3 times.   1. I was in the shower and lifted my arm and sudden pains to my chest. I sat down only to be more short of breath and weakened by the pain. I went to hospital to be placed on oxygen for 6 hours and then released with recovering results.   2. I was sitting at my computer and suddenly I couldn't breathe. This time, I went a step further with them putting a tube in to suck the air out of my side. After an overnight stay, I was released with hopes that I wouldn't return.   3. Sitting at my computer again when suddenly struck with the pain. I didn't wish to go back to hospital so soon, as it has only been about a month since I was there last. I returned to hospital as the pain was too much.   This time I went a further step with receiving oxygen, the tube, then had the surgery that kept me in hospital for 1.5 weeks with the tube in my side for that time. I did not know whether or not I was to recover as the pain was clearly still present. This was around 2 months ago and I hope to never see this problem again.
Avatar universal
I had a pneumothorax about 12 years ago resulting from a slip on wet grass. I injured my right rib cage. Ten hours later, I rushed to the emergency room, believing I had had a heart attack, only to find out my right lung had collapsed. After numerous and persistent lung collapses while having a tube attached and removed, doctors determined that I had 25% damage. It was suggested that, although I had stopped smoking 16 years earlier, my lungs had already been destroyed by the time I stopped smoking.   After 18 days in the hospital, surgery removed one quarter of my right lung as well a fist-size embolism in the middle of my right lung. Today, I suffer from recurring pains in my right side, probably from the large amount of scar tissue I developed. My only complaint is that the pain will never go away completely.   I can tell you that I work out five days a week on free weights and have been doing so three months after my surgery without a recurrence. My complaint is that the pain to my right side still persists. When I ask doctors about it, they don't have a clue.
Avatar universal
My father just had a pneumothorax driving home from the hospital where he was asking his doctor about some spots on his chest X-ray. He had to go to the ER at another hospital about 40 minutes away closer to his home. He walked in and passed out in the ER. They didn't put a chest tube in for an hour thinking that he had a heart attack. He was brain dead from lack of oxygen to the brain and passed away a week later. Go to a good hospital if you get a pneumothorax.
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I suffered a pneumothorax 14 years ago when I was 23. I am now 37 and touch wood it has not happened again.  I have never smoked or taken any drugs, but I am tall and thin. Now and again when I am feeling unwell and tired I do get mild symptoms of the pain and think "not again," but then after rest, it has eased off.
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I had my lung collapse two times back in November. I was the in the hospital for three days the first time with a chest tube, and the second time, I had to have surgery to stick my lung to the chest wall to keep it from collapsing again. I am still in pain from it, so I don't want it to happen again. I worry about that every day. I know to doctors it's as simple as getting dressed, but for me it's life-changing.
Avatar universal
It was a unfortunate Sunday where spontaneous pneumothorax (collapse of right lung) occurred when I was just sitting in front of my computer without doing any hard/physical work. I was unable to breathe for about 10min and with terrific pain in the chest. I was able to take breathe slowly as time passed with cough and pain still remained. The next day I consulted a doctor, and he referred me to immediately consult a pulmonologist. He immediately told me to admit to the hospital so that they can start the treatment. They made a one-inch hole, put a chest pipe in, to remove the negative air into sachet which contained water in it. I suffered with back bone pain for two full days. Later, my right lung came to its original size and doctor suggested me 1month of rest. The important thing is I don't smoke and drink and there was no single reason left behind for the cause of this drastic incident.
Avatar universal
My family has a history of collapsed lungs and I currently have lung blebs.  We were diagnosed with Birt Hogg Dube Syndrome (BHD) 2 yrs ago and it is a rare genetics disease and can only be found through blood tests.  Collapsed lungs or Pneumothorax seem to be related to having BHD.
Avatar universal
I have a simple small pneumothorax.  I have had chest and back pain for months.  The only external symptom I have had is swelling in my right breast and back. I figured that I might have another pulmonary embolism (I had one 8 years ago), so my Dr. ordered a chest x-ray.  When I asked her which side, she wouldn't tell, said "not a big deal" I disagree.  Steroids helped. I'm good at self diagnosis.  It IS a big deal, hurts plenty and makes me really feel tired. I finally got part of this problem figured out. I just need to remember that nausea and lung problems can go together.
Avatar universal
I had a pneumothorax back in June of 2009. I went to my doctor and he gave me some injections in my lower and upper back for my back pain and in the process, he punctured my lung with the needle. It was immediate pain that I can no t describe. I spent 5 long miserable days in the hospital with a chest tube inserted in my side. It was so uncomfortable. I often get small stabbing like pain along with a burning sensation in the area where the needle went in and it scares the life out of me that I'm going to end up with another pneumothorax. Needless to say, I don't ever want to see another needle again in my life. And not to mention, the doctor that did this to me that I had been seeing for a number of years has never even contacted me to see if I had even survived!
Avatar universal
I am currently in the hospital with a spontaneous pneumothorax. I woke up at 9:00am on Sat w/ sharp pain and could not breathe very well. Went into the emergency room at 10:00am and at 2:30 had a chest tube put in now 5 days later still have the tube and a few small blebs, chance of possible surgery but hoping that the pneumothorax closes with the suction that has been on and off for the last 5 days. If you should get pain and shortness of breath PLEASE GO TO THE ER ASAP !
Avatar universal
I had a spontaneous pneumothorax two years ago. Unfortunately when I got to the ER, they thought I was having an anxiety attack and left me untreated for over two hours. When they finally X-rayed my chest, they saw my lung was collapsed. They had to insert the tube so quickly they couldn't give me any medicine for the pain. I had a chest tube in for eight days. Six months to the day later I had another one in the same lung and had 3/4 of my lung removed. I still experience pain and fatigue every day!!!
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I have just been released from hospital after having my fifth pneumothorax. After my third, I was operated on to stop this happening. My lung collapsed again about 10 days after the operation and now again 14months later. I have now had the talc put into my chest to see if this helps only doctors are not too optimistic. I do not fit the normal stereotype for pneumothorax, I am female, 5'2 and slightly overweight, never smoked or taken drugs.
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The pain was the worst I have ever suffered. I have had ruptured discs before but that pain was not as severe. I am slowly getting better two and a half months later and I am assured I will be back to normal health very soon.
Avatar universal
I was sitting down smoking. After a while felt a weird pain in my back. I got up to go take a shower right after and my body started acting weird and could not catch my breath. I saw doctor and was prescribed antibiotics and a steroid shot thinking it was upper respiratory infection or bronchitis. A week later, I was still hurting and not breathing went back to doctor.  A week after that, I went back as I was not feeling better at all. The doctor sent me to get blood work for a blood clot and an X-ray. The X-ray tech said your lung is 100% collapsed and you need a chest tube quickly. I told them I'd been like this for two weeks now! I was rushed to the hospital where the chest tube was placed. I spent three nights in hospital and now it has been about four weeks since I got out. I have no problems. I was a long-time smoker since I was a teenager, but I haven't had a puff since right before I went in the hospital to do the X-ray! It was a terrible experience, but it got me to quit smoking!
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