Pulmonary Q&A by Dr. Schiffman

I have COPD. Recently I experienced a pneumothorax due to a prick from insertion of a port. Since returning home I have been experiencing lightheadedness and am very unstable when I try to walk or stand. I am also experiencing memory lapses. I was taken off my blood pressure meds by my treating physician, are these symptoms common?

Medical Author: George Schiffman, MD
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Answer:

If a pneumothorax is significant in size, it can alter the functioning of the lung and result in shortness of breath, chest pain, and a lower oxygen level. Anxiety, hyperventilation (rapid breathing), and a lower oxygen level in the bloodstream can cause lightheadedness as well as instability. A severe pneumothorax under tension can cause decreased cardiac output and a lower blood pressure; this too could cause lightheadedness or instability. If left untreated, it usually results in loss of consciousness and/or death. Once a pneumothorax is successfully treated the symptoms usually resolve right away. It is important to remember that a pneumothorax can recur if the puncture site in the lung is at all fragile. A repeat chest x ray can confirm the recurrence of pneumothorax.

Thank you for your question.


Last Editorial Review: 1/2/2007


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