Is it Common to Have Pneumothorax with COPD?

  • Medical Author:
    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Understanding COPD

Ask the experts

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?

Doctor's response

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.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


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Reviewed on 9/18/2017

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