Pneumothorax (cont.)

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Who is at risk for pneumothorax?

Spontaneous pneumothorax is more common in men. Smoking has been shown to increase the risk for spontaneous pneumothorax.

What is tension pneumothorax?

In some instances, the lung continues to leak air into the chest cavity and results in compression of the chest structures, including vessels that return blood to the heart. This is referred to as a tension pneumothorax and can be fatal if not treated immediately.

What are the signs and symptoms of pneumothorax?

Symptoms of a pneumothorax include chest pain that usually has a sudden onset. The pain is sharp and may lead to feelings of tightness in the chest. Shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, cough, and fatigue are other symptoms of pneumothorax. The skin may develop a bluish color (termed cyanosis) due to decreases in blood oxygen levels.

How is pneumothorax diagnosed?

Examination of the chest with a stethoscope reveals decreased or absent breath sounds over the affected lung. The diagnosis is confirmed by chest X-ray.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2014

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