Pneumothorax - Symptoms

The symptoms of pneumothorax depend on a number of factors. These include the amount of air that enters the chest, the extent to which the lung collapses, and the presence of any kind of lung disease.

Spontaneous pneumothorax can be classified as simple or complex. Simple spontaneous pneumothorax usually occurs with people who are otherwise healthy. It is caused by certain types of activity, such as scuba diving or flying at high altitudes. Complex spontaneous pneumothorax occurs with people who have lung disease. The symptoms of complex spontaneous pneumothorax are more serious than those of simple spontaneous pneumothorax.

The most common symptom of spontaneous pneumothorax is a chest pain that can be dull, sharp, or stabbing. The pain starts suddenly and becomes worse with coughing or deep breathing. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, and a cough.

Traumatic pneumothorax occurs as a result of medical procedures or of injuries. For example, a stab wound allows air to enter the chest cavity. The air may have no way of escaping from the chest. The wound can result in a collapsed lung. The symptoms of traumatic pneumothorax are similar to those of spontaneous pneumothorax, but they are more severe.

The symptoms of tension pneumothorax tend to be severe with sudden onset (beginning). They include anxiety, swollen neck veins, weak pulse, and decreased breathing sounds from the lung.

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