Patient Comments: Pneumothorax - Symptoms


What were the symptoms of your pneumothorax? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Carr, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: October 09

My pneumothorax onset was early morning and sudden, just as I began jogging. I had recently quit smoking. My most unpleasant symptom was a weird sensation when bending forward from the waist; it felt as though little bubbles were travelling upwards as I leaned over. The symptoms were somewhat alleviated by raising my arms up high and holding them for several seconds.

Comment from: thoraxe, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: June 01

I was 15 at the time and I was in severe pain taking a test, and I started to move. It felt a huge amount of pressure on my heart which made every step horrific. I was rushed to the emergency room and saw an x-ray that my left lung was half deflated. I spent 5 days in the hospital to recover. One year later, the same lung collapsed; 13 months later again after taking a 4 mile bike ride without noticing. I had VATS (video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery) which caused the lung to stick to the chest wall. It healed in the same amount of time but after having been in the hospital for 10 days from the lung being inflated and then the VATS. Four years since the last time and I couldn't be healthier but pains are still there, random, sometimes they are intense and sometimes they are able to be dealt with. First time it was apparent something was wrong but the second time I've had panic attacks with worst pain.

Comment from: Will, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: February 03

I woke up to go to school, bent down and started to feel short of breath, stabbing sort of pain when I took a deep breath and pain in my shoulder. I didn't go to the emergency room until 24 hours later, where it was found to be pneumothorax, and at that point my heart was beating very fast (tachycardia) and I was getting faint from breathing fast.

Comment from: ladygeekface, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: August 05

My left lung collapsed in 2006, and my right lung collapsed in 2008. Both times the pneumothorax happened as I was getting out of the shower. The pain started as what seemed like a muscle cramp in my back. Eventually, I had sharp pain in my back on just the one side, my shoulder, and my neck. According to the doctor, it collapsed due to air pockets on my lungs bursting. Both times it happened, I had someone drive me to the emergency room (ER) where they placed a chest tube to drain out the fluid. My lungs had already sealed the holes. I stayed in the hospital four days the first time. The second time, my lung collapsed while I still had the chest tube in, so I ended up having to stay for six days. I still have chest pains all the time that are so similar to the pain of a pneumothorax that I go to the doctor to be sure. I haven't had a pneumothorax in eight years, and I'm not really sure how to tell the pain apart anymore.

Comment from: Concernedspouse, 55-64 Female (Caregiver) Published: July 30

My husband had his first collapsed lung (pneumothorax) in 2002, on the right side. He could not take a deep breath and felt a tremendous stabbing pain. After being admitted in the emergency room (ER) they inserted a tube and pumped it back up. Two years later the same thing happened again. Four years later again, and they decided to perform a procedure where you scrape the lung exterior and glue it to the abdomen wall. He has pains even now and has never been himself again. He is 59 years old and pushes himself every day to lead a somewhat normal life.

Comment from: Mari, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 08

I was doing fine until I got a sharp pain on my lower abdominal area. The pain was so bad, that I felt light headed, and didn't have an appetite. That night I went to bed, but the pain wouldn't go away. I didn't go to the emergency room. The next morning I could hardly walk to the bathroom with the pain. I took amoxicillin 500 mg, ibuprofen 800 mg, and 2 Azo pills. As the day went by, the pain had gone. I went to the restroom, and my urine was bloody. I got scared, but the kidney stone took its course going right through me. After that, I felt better. I will continue on what medications I took for 2 or 3 days. Back to normal.

Comment from: Candice, 25-34 (Patient) Published: September 15

I had a pneumothorax on both lungs when I was 12. I had two surgeries and two chest tubes. I have pain 17 years later. Pain in my right side only. I go to the doctor and they say it is scar tissue. I just wish I didn't have pain. I am afraid of the future of my lungs. I can't be around anything not even a little dirt. I live in Phoenix so I really have the roughest time breathing here. I hope the best for everyone who hasn't lived with this long. It can be a better experience then mine.

Comment from: Yolanda, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 13

I have pain in the left side of my chest which when I breathe I feel stronger. I am concerned it is pneumothorax.

Comment from: Dixie, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: October 15

I went to the emergency room because my eye suddenly swelled shut. When the emergency room people touched the area, a crackling noise was heard. They told me that was the air escaping from my lung. I never had any pain or any shortness of breath.

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Comment from: KCP, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 04

I am 63 and was a smoker till the pneumothorax last week. I woke up short of breath with a racing heart and feeling as if I had been trampled in the upper and back torso. I went to see the doctor in the afternoon of day 1 and was told I was having an anxiety attack. I felt very poorly by day 3 evening and took my temperature as I felt very hot. I went to the local hospital and x-ray showed collapsed left lung. I had air pulled out of it and had oxygen during the 2.5 day stay with frequent x-rays showing the lung had almost fully expanded. I am due to go for a checkup/x-ray a week later.

Comment from: HurtingonRight, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: May 29

First spontaneous Pneumo. About 10 years ago, left lung was 100% collapsed. Pain was intense but only in my chest and right arm. They inserted a chest tube immediately in the ER and performed surgery the following day, where they repaired the torn lung and scuffed the wall to reattach. I was in the hospital for 5 days with suction. Home treatment went OK and was back at work within a few weeks. Recently, has another spontaneous on the right side, although only 30%. The surgeon wanted to wait it out to see if it would correct itself, but after 1 week of going in for x-rays, it looks as if it was healing but the pain was far worse. After surgery again and 4 days in the hospital I was sent home. It's been 3 1/2 weeks since surgery and I still have a horrible pain in my right upper chest that is not touched by regular over the counter meds. The surgeon swears I should have no pain now. The pain is not only "internal," but hurts to even touch my chest on that side. Even hurts to have my shirt rub up against that area. hopefully going to see my regular doctor tomorrow to see if he can find anything. This was a great surgeon, but is not the best at follow up care.

Comment from: LAM, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 18

I had it happen to me twice. I am a small framed female. First time I was 20 years old. I woke up in the morning for work, took a few steps out of bed and it felt like someone came up behind me and stabbed me in the back. Was in the hospital for a week with the painful chest tube. Second time it happened I was 25 years old. I was driving down the highway and got a horrible pain in my right shoulder. As the day progressed, the pain radiated down my back, arm, and chest. Though I went through hell afterwards, ended up in intensive care, and was hospitalized for 2 weeks, I have not had a reoccurrence. I am currently 43 years old. It was my right lung both times. Extremely painful and scary!!! The surgery is supposed to prevent any future episodes which I guess worked since it has been 17 years. Good luck to all who have suffered with this and are currently going through this.

Comment from: Gazelle, 55-64 Female Published: March 30

In 1975 and 76, I suffered what they called recurrent pneumothorax about 12 all together, which would 5 on the left and 7 on the right, I would be admitted and chest tubs would be inserted to inflate my lungs but after so many trips to the hospital, my parents transferred me to a new Doctor and I had major surgeries on both lungs. Suffice it to say, my chest is scared badly but that Dr. saved my life. Today, my lungs capacity is 60% and I do understand when people say "I have trouble breathing", I have 3 puffers and because of my work location, I now have "Asbestos related lung disease" which are Pleural thickening, mild (but progressive) lung fibroses and bronchiectasis. Since my lungs are (glued) with tact powder to my pleura, it's not hard to figure what will happen in the future but for today, I am not in pain anymore but very careful. Good luck to all that have gone through this pain.

Comment from: champ, Female (Patient) Published: March 01

When I was 5 months pregnant I had my first pneumothorax. Coughing and pains in back were so severe I went to emergency. They inserted a chest tube, but 2 days later was told I required surgery to correct the pneumothorax. I was told 50% chance of losing the baby during surgery. I refused surgery due to chance of baby surviving, but 3days later had no choice. I woke up 4 days later still pregnant with 80-100 stitches and very painful. Stayed in hospital for nearly a month, and then had to be careful for remainder of pregnancy. Delivered a 7lb 4oz baby girl 4 months later. 2 years nearly to the date, I had my 2nd pneumothorax, this time breathing was difficult. Surgery again and 100 staples inside and out, was a very painful surgery and recovery process. Pains in chest or back, breathing and/or coughing go seek medical attention immediately, because depending on the pneumothorax it could mean life or death.

Comment from: Lucky, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 15

I had my first of nine pneumothoracies when I was 24. I had a pain in my left shoulder and ignored it till the coughing started, still left it for another 6 week, finally collapsed and went to the doctor, after x-rays confirmed 35% collapse had chest tube inserted - very painful. 4 months later I had a 15% of the left again and 3 days later a 45% collapse on the right and ended up having a bilateral pleurodesis, OMG what pain!! Had 6 more collapses after that, endless ops but haven't had one for 15 years now - touch wood. If you haven't had a collapse or had the surgery you cannot understand the pain.

Comment from: cfeldman23, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: April 20

I was 27 years old when my lung collapsed. I was cleaning my kitchen floor, and when I stood up I could not catch my breath at all. I had sharp pains in my right side. It felt as if someone kicked me in the side, and I had the wind knocked out of me. I tried to take slow breaths and thought it might go away in a little bit. I even tried to sleep that night but around 4 a.m. I woke up in extreme pain and I couldn't even stand up straight. I went to the hospital and they took an X-ray and told me I had a collapsed lung. I was admitted to the hospital for six days with a tube stuck in my chest and hooked up to the wall. I could not get out of bed for anything. It was the most painful thing I have ever endured!

Understanding COPD
Comment from: Earl, 13-18 Male (Patient) Published: April 13

I'm 18 and I experienced spontaneous pneumothorax a few months ago; at that time, I was 17. I was just walking along a building in school when I felt slight pains in my upper right chest, just above the nipple area. After a few more meters of walking, the pain worsened and it started to spread to the right side of my upper back. I also had difficulty breathing just a few minutes after I experienced the first slight pains. By the time I got to the school clinic just 5 minutes after I felt it, I turned pale and I had difficulty explaining to the nurses what I felt because it was very hard to speak. I rested in bed for about an hour, and the pain subsided. I still felt pain whenever I moved any part of my torso and when I tried to breathe deeply though. Went to the ER and saw that my lung was 60% collapsed. Got the tube inserted in the ER only with local anesthesia. The pain was excruciating. Stayed in the hospital for a week until the tube was pulled out. I used to be in the soccer team and I did a lot of swimming before the pneumothorax occurred.

Comment from: robin, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: February 01

I felt it important to mention that it usually happens during rest. I woke up one morning with pain in my upper back, on the right side Android consistent chest pain. I thought it was really bad heart burn or indigestion. I also felt a bubbling type feeling in my chest when would bend over. The pain was much worse if I leaned back or tried to lay down. I was hospitalized five days with a chest tube.

Comment from: Amara, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: June 05

I had my first surgery for pneumothorax on April 23rd, 2014, and I still experience pains on my chest irrespective of the surgery.

Comment from: linda, 13-18 Female (Patient) Published: May 10

I am 15 years old. It happened in class, and I thought I somehow pulled a back muscle. The pain radiated from one spot, through my entire upper back, to my arms and my chest. It was so hard to breathe. I went to a family doctor first, where they said nothing was wrong. Three hours later, the pain continued and I ended up at the hospital, where they again said nothing was wrong with me. Until I received an X-ray. Surprisingly, the chest tube didn't hurt much, but every time they go off suction it collapses again, even after a staple.

Comment from: DaeWonder, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 06

I experienced my first pneumothorax about 13 years ago. For three years I experienced a pneumothorax almost monthly – always on the right side. I was diagnosed with catamenial pneumothorax, meaning my lung collapses are the result of endometrial tissue on my lung. I had pleurodesis surgery 10 years ago to "stick" my lung to my chest wall through an abrasion technique. Since the surgery, I've had smaller lung collapses in the 10-15% range. This month I had another pneumothorax of 40%, requiring a chest tube and hospital stay.

Comment from: dgweh, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: April 08

I've had two pneumothorax episodes in my earlier life. My right lung collapsed when I was 14; my left lung collapsed six years later. The symptoms were the same for both – extreme lower back pain and difficulty breathing. Instead of having a chest tube and worrying about whether my lungs would collapse again, I chose to have surgery both times to fix it for good. It's been 30 years since the last surgery, and I have had no problems at all (knock on wood).

Comment from: myngskmk, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 21

I had my lung collapsed twice. Once in 2008 and now in 2012. Both times this happened I was over worked and stressed out at my job. Both times it was at the peak of the holiday season and I had a huge increase in my physical and stress work load. I was in the middle of working when my lung, the same lung collapsed during strenuous lifting when I was already fatigued from work overload. The second lung collapsed resulted in the doctor removing a section of my lung and applying a chemical adhesive so my lung would bond with the inside of my chest cavity. Trust me, when you wake up from this surgery with a one inch tube sticking out of your rib cage, you are in a lot of pain. I was on a morphine pump for days. My advice is that there is no job worth this kind of pain so be careful how much you exert yourself at work when you are stressed and worn out.

Comment from: 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: October 17

My first spontaneous pneumothorax was on my right side in 2006. It collapsed twice. After that I continued to smoke and just recently my left lung collapsed. I'm 6'6, and 180 lbs so I fit the description not to mention that i was still smoking. I had two different types of surgery. The most recent one was on my left side where the surgeon scraped the outer wall of my lung so it would stick, and she also took air bubbles out. I stayed in the hospital for a week with a chest tube.

Comment from: Instyle, 25-34 Male (Caregiver) Published: June 20

My son had a spontaneous pneumothorax experience while on his job. He is tall, thin, a non-smoker, does not drink, no drugs, and is athletic. Only 10 percent of his right lung had collapsed, but the pain was terrible for him. He had pain, shortness of breath, with symptoms similar to a heart attack. We did go to the hospital and after four chest X-rays, a 36 hour stay in the hospital, and an oxygen treatment (no tube needed), he was allowed to go home, with the idea that the lung would repair on its own since it was such a small percentage. He is taking it slowly, but does not want to stop his normal workout activities. So we will see, but any symptoms this extensive, don't risk it and go to the hospital right away.

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Comment from: JustJess, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: August 04

I'm a 23 year old woman and the scariest thing about having a pneumothorax for me was that there was not one symptom that made me feel any urgency to go check it out. I had a bad cough for more than two weeks, and I woke up one morning with minor chest and back pain and thought maybe it was time to get some antibiotics to help get rid of this cold or bronchitis or whatever it was... So I went to the clinic and, after seeing the 90% collapsed lung on the X-rays, they called me an ambulance. I could not believe it... I kept saying that I really don't feel that bad! I got the drain installed in emergency (while awake.. not fun) and 5 days later went through the bullectomy/pleurectomy in my left lung because it was too weak and would not reinflate. My right lung collapsed because of the surgery so I had to go back 2 weeks later to get it on the right lung. Now, almost a year later, I feel almost as if nothing ever happened. I had a great surgeon. One thing I want to mention is that during the year before all this, I went to see my doctor three times for back/chest pain. I also mentioned feeling a weird popping and bubble sounds in my chest when lying down, and it was dismissed as anxiety and muscle pain.

Comment from: lovetobreathe, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: July 28

I am currently in the hospital after suffering a bilateral (both lungs) spontaneous pneumothorax. I am 11 weeks pregnant and for three weeks the doctors have blamed my shortness of breath on the pregnancy. My left lung collapsed 70% and the right one was 50%. Still after five days in the hospital and two chest tubes my right lung still has a 20% pnuemothorax. My worst indicator besides not being able to breathe was severe back pain which is still occurring today. Chest pain was occassional but the back pain was unbearable.

Comment from: Lucky, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: March 16

I am a 56 year old male. I am a non-smoker. The pain started as dull sensation in the left side of chest. While sitting and leaning back in chair, there was a sharp pain that radiated throughout body. The pain lasted several hours and didn't intensify. My family decided it was best to seek medical advice. I went to emergency room with chest pains. The EKG didn't show any problems, but the chest X-ray revealed dropped lung.

Comment from: braun, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 19

With my pneumothorax, I experienced pain down my back, left arm and neck. The pain was worse in my chest and felt as if I was being squeezed. Breathing was difficult and painful.

Comment from: CallMeCjhance, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: January 25

I originally thought it was a muscle spasm in my back. It was agonizing pain, so I went to the emergency room. They did a chest X-ray and told me that I had a spontaneous pneumothorax! I was stunned. I had not experienced any trauma and could not understand how this had happened. The doctors just told me that it happens sometimes and would probably happen again. My lung was 10 percent collapsed. They kept me in the hospital on 100 percent oxygen. Very scary!

Comment from: Suzmd, Female Published: July 11

At age 18 I suddenly experienced back pain that intensified as I breathed. Initially, I thought it was my posture as I was sitting and writing, but, no matter what I did to alleviate the pain, it got worse. There's no mistaking that this pain is abnormal, and in my case, nothing was going to help except for hospitalization and a chest tube. My left lung had collapsed 70 percent.

Comment from: patient, 19-24 Female (Caregiver) Published: May 26

When I was just 18, one evening I experienced a sharp pain in my left chest which ran into my arm and back as well. I had difficulty breathing and went to see a GP. She said it was just muscle spasm. The pain got worse and was rushed to hospital. I learned that my lung had collapsed. The next day a tube was inserted and I remained in hospital for a week. 3 days after being discharged, I was back with the same terrible pain and was admitted again. This time went in for surgery in which they found a growth (not malignant) and inserted the tube again and after some tests, they said that it was an air born germ that I picked up. I was in hospital for a month.

Comment from: tommyc, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 18

I woke up feeling good and mid morning. I felt like I needed air and my chest was racing. I went on the porch and sat down for a couple of min. and it went away 1/2 hr later it started again and I was really scared called 911 wound up in the ER they poked a tube in my side for two days and I felt better. It hurt going in felt nothing going out. I blame it on my smoking I now quit and hope it never happens again.

Comment from: 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 22

I am a 51 year old female who has never smoked and do not have a history of lung illness. I've had three spontaneous pneumothorax 7-8 months apart. It is always in the same place and the same size on my right lung. The pain starts out like my back is out between the shoulder blade and spine and then moves more to the front of my chest. The lung doctor I've seen has suggested arthroscopic surgery to find the tear and stitch it up if it happens again.

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Comment from: lw126, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: March 22

I am 31 and I have had 6 Neumothorax. My doctor's believe that this is a result of a condition called thoracic endometriosis. My symptoms have varied depending on the size of the collapse. My 1st collapse was 75% and I experienced a dull pain in my shoulder, stabbing pain in the center of my chest when I breathed in and out. The others were all under 20% and I experienced the dull pain in my shoulder and a crunching feeling in my chest when breathing in and out. Definitely worse when stretching.

Comment from: Jon M, 13-18 Male (Patient) Published: March 01

I am 18 and recovering from my second pneumothorax. I got my first one 3 months ago from this one on my right side. I had the VATS treatment for this one. The first time I had to have a chest tube inserted for a couple days, for this one I was in the hospital for a week. I was an athlete, healthy kid, smart student and a non smoker and it happened to me. I am tall and thin though. Hopefully the VATS treatment will prevent this from happening again.

Comment from: dwaynec, 25-34 Male (Caregiver) Published: January 26

Severe chest pains, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, easily tired, difficulty speaking, difficulty walking.

Comment from: (Patient) Published: November 14

Like mild to strong sharp chest pain, and shortness of breath. My lung collapsed 30 percent of capacity, and they put a tube in my chest.

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