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Collapsed Lung (Pneumothorax)

Question:

Please describe your experience with pneumothorax. Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Jim, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: December 04

I fractured 3 to 4 ribs and fortunately went back to work in three days. I put a band around my chest so I could work which was the wrong thing to do, and I didn't breathe deep enough and probably held my breath a lot when I was working, which led to pneumothorax.

Comment from: adslungs, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: October 23

I was going shopping one day, came home, sat about, and felt fine. I stretched out my arms and I had the worst pain ever in my lower back and a dry cough. I was diagnosed with pneumothorax, had drain put in and stayed in hospital for 5 days, then got released. I was ok for a week then it reoccurred now so I went back up there. I was told it happened again in 50 per cent of the people and was told yet again that I had complete collapse but since I have been released and had follow ups it has been good. I still have a bit of pain but at least I am breathing!

Comment from: Veronica, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 18

Having a pneumothorax hurt so bad that I could not take the pain. Every time I lay down I had to get up and walk around, the pain was so bad I was crying.

Comment from: Lorilo, 25-34 Female (Caregiver) Published: September 05

I had a spontaneous pneumothorax of the right lung a few years back. It started out as pain in my lower right side, and throughout the day radiated to my right shoulder. I could exhale but couldn't inhale. I threw up multiple times and was really becoming afraid I was going to die, as every time I vomited, I lost more breath. A trip to the emergency room showed the mediastinum had been displaced to the left side. A chest tube was inserted for drainage to expand the lung. Morphine was ordered for pain.

Comment from: Breathing18, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 07

Years ago, I was feeling tired, slightly anxious and my heart was beating a little faster. I thought it was a heart attack. I don't smoke, no chest pain and no injuries. Urgent care staff said all my vitals were normal and was sending me home. Fortunately, my dad asked the doctor if he could do a chest x-ray. The doctor didn't agree until he learned my dad was a retired physician. Thank god for my dad! I had a pneumothorax, my right lung had spontaneously collapsed. I had tubes put in, and surgery, and so far lung is still good.

Comment from: Bobhill, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: July 31

I'm 24 and had a chest tube inserted for a pneumothorax on June 26. I was told I had a collapsed lung for an extended amount of time, and smoked a pack a day for 6 years before this happened. I was out of hospital by July 1 and have had no further complications from the lung to this point even though I quit smoking also. I was told my lungs were still in great shape and if I was to quit smoking now they'd stay that way. Thank goodness I wandered into that emergency room.

Comment from: Michael, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: January 24

Well, I got my pneumothorax on January 9th. I got out of the shower and got a sharp pain in my back. Then it kind of went downhill from there. I thought I had pneumonia at first. I went to work for 3 days until my wife made me go to our doctor. They took an x-ray and said I had a 100 percent collapsed left lung. They sent me to the emergency room and they rushed me into trauma unit. I spent a week in the hospital with a chest tube in my left side. This is the worst pain in the world. It still hurts where they stuck the tube in. But now the doctor says I have stage 4 emphysema so I guess we'll see what happens from here. At 61 I can't complain. Lot of years of smoking. I haven't smoked in 15 years but the damage is done. They say it can happen again. So we'll see. At least I know what it feels like now if it does and not wait so long to get medical care.

Comment from: brian, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: July 27

I had a collapsed lung (pneumothorax) 3 times last year, I'm a 68 year old male, and I stopped smoking 12 years ago. The last time it collapsed I had surgery and part of my lung was removed. I have emphysema and this had caused bullae and they had to be removed. I had operation at 10.30 am and at 4 pm was having my dinner, and 3 days later went home. I was treated so well. I still have a fair bit of nerve pain but I'm still alive and enjoying life.

Comment from: Chris31UK, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: March 22

I'm a 31 year old male, previously a smoker before my first pneumothorax. The first time my bottom right lung collapsed and I thought it was angina or heart attack. I was rushed to hospital and they stuck a syringe in and then re-inflated the collapsed part. The following day I was just finishing smoking and I could feel a pain when I breathed in and out and felt my lung capacity drop to 50 percent. I was rushed to hospital again and had a drain. After being on and off suction 3 times they operated and used talc to stick my lung to the wall. My lung is still only 93 percent inflated and I have been in hospital 4 weeks so far. (I am still here!) I'm on flutter bag for the 3rd time now and as long as my lung does not deflate even more in the next 48 hours at least I can go home. I have never known pain like this and would never wish it on anyone. It is actually really scary because most people have recovered in at least half the time I have been here so who knows how long this will last and what the end result will be. My last words; live your life and regret nothing. Spend as much time with your family as possible. One day it will be too late.

QUESTION

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the same as adult-onset asthma. See Answer
Comment from: Muti Tsk, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: December 03

I recently had a spontaneous pneumothorax (three weeks ago). It happened when I was walking on the street. I had no battery to call an ambulance so I ended up walking for an hour and half. When I got home I called the emergency and I was rushed to the hospital. They told me I had a collapsed lung (the smallest lung they ever saw as they told me). I spent one week with two drains stuck to my lung. My lung did not go back to normal so they decided to operate (VATS), and another week of the worst pain I ever experienced. I am back home now and I keep getting stabbing pain. I really hope I am not getting another pneumothorax again. I wish all of you reading this post the best and a fast recovery!

Comment from: Yvette, Female (Patient) Published: December 03

I was experiencing back ache for two weeks prior to finding out I had pneumothorax. I went to the emergency room (ER) and was told I might have a kidney infection (wrong diagnosis). I went home and after another two weeks went by and I couldn't stand the pain, I went back to a patient first clinic. There the doctor ordered x-ray and that was when they found out I had pneumothorax. I was rushed to the ER and admitted. A chest tube was placed and left on my right side lung for 3 days and that didn't drain anything from my lungs so I was then operated on, and they had to scrape out the infection on my right side lung. It's been two weeks and all I can think is if this will happen again. I am scared and afraid to even leave my house in fear of getting sick again. I don't wish this on my worst enemy.

Comment from: dacia, 0-2 Female (Caregiver) Published: September 02

When my baby was about nine month she suffered from a collapsed lung where she had to do a major surgery and had to get two chest tubes. Doctors says she could have died. She was breathing way too hard and had coughing and vomiting. She was in the hospital for about a month, had the surgery for pneumothorax and was out. My daughter is a year and two months now and is doing really good; no one can tell that she was badly sick.

Comment from: maher, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: July 29

I just got out of the hospital 2 days ago after recovery from pneumothorax. Apparently I had my lung slowly collapsing for about a month, I ignored as I thought it was maybe shortness of breath since I am a smoker, and it will go away. Nope, it did not, so I went to the hospital to get x-ray and sure enough 70 percent of the right lung had got deflated. The doctor who was a great doctor, performed the tubing, with Novocain, and all this was the most painful process I experienced. I literally felt the tube going through every layer. The hospital staff was great and the doctor just phenomenal, it's just the whole thing is darn ugly and after you are about to leave the hospital after 4 days of exposing your body parts to everybody with a gown, they tell you there is a 50/50 chance of it happening again. Yeah, exciting.

Comment from: Lyn, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 07

I had breast cancer in July 2014, then I had radiation. I was not feeling very well, had a lot of back pain and in my joints. On my 19th visit to have radiation I came home, and in the evening I started vomiting and the pain in the lower part on the right side of my back was pain I never experienced. I went to the doctors the next morning and they rang an ambulance. I was taken to the hospital and had MRI scans and my right lung had collapsed; they thought I had cancer in my right lung but that wasn't the case, it was pneumothorax. I don't remember much, only that they cut the top part of my back and drained fluid. I didn't feel a thing as I was on pretty strong medication. On Tuesday I had a 5 hour operation on my lung, as I also had pneumonia. It was a slow recovery and I am pain tolerant but after that surgery I became a bit of a sook. I stopped the radiation immediately and stayed in hospital for 2 weeks. They glued my lung to my chest. It has now been 7 months and I'm feeling not bad, but it sometimes can be painful on my right side.

Comment from: Brian, Male (Patient) Published: June 11

As a teen I had both of my lungs collapse several times spontaneously. Sometimes it was difficult to tell the difference between muscular pain in my chest and a pneumothorax. The test I developed to tell if I had a collapsed lung was to lean forward at the waist. If my lung was collapsed, I could feel the air bubble between the lung and the top of the chest cavity move as I bend over and straightened up again. Eventually I ended getting the thin parts of both lungs stapled to seal them off, then no more problems after that.

Comment from: Alice B., RN (ER), 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 28

I was born with left lung defects secondary to my pop's exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. My lung collapsed due to a ruptured empyemic cyst. I wound up with tension pneumothorax with mediastinal shift. Two thoracotomy surgeries later, the entire left lung is gone (all at age 9). I went on to develop heart failure (age 34) due to my system being strained for so long. I am now 42 years old and managing ok! I still have significant left sided pain due to the formation of all the scar tissue. It frequently aches and movement on that left side is somewhat limited, but that hasn't stopped me from practicing my yoga! But you just have to keep going and do what you can! In my eyes, we are all warriors!

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Comment from: Honey, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 20

It is the doctor's guess that my pneumothorax occurred during a 3.5 hour overseas flight. As we were staying with friends and didn't want to spoil the holiday, I didn't say anything about (or do anything about) the symptoms which were breathlessness during any exertion, pain in the shoulder and ribs and the frightening fact that, if I lay on my right side, I could not breathe at all. I also had a pain in my head unlike a normal dull headache. After 12 days of this, we made the return flight. I am told that it is a miracle that I survived it. Fourteen days after the first flight and onset of symptoms, I had an x-ray and was rushed to the emergency ward where a tube was inserted. It was removed 4 days later, which was 6 days ago. The pneumothorax has slowly decreased but has not disappeared to date. I have been told to take it easy for a month which I guess is the expected recovery time. I am not allowed to fly for 6 weeks and will never be able to scuba-dive, sky-dive or be a pilot, which, as a 63 year old female, I can live with!

Comment from: Bobbyr, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: November 24

I had a pneumothorax about 12 years ago resulting from a slip on wet grass. I injured my right rib cage. Ten hours later, I rushed to the emergency room, believing I had had a heart attack, only to find out my right lung had collapsed. After numerous and persistent lung collapses while having a tube attached and removed, doctors determined that I had 25% damage. It was suggested that, although I had stopped smoking 16 years earlier, my lungs had already been destroyed by the time I stopped smoking. After 18 days in the hospital, surgery removed one quarter of my right lung as well a fist-size embolism in the middle of my right lung. Today, I suffer from recurring pains in my right side, probably from the large amount of scar tissue I developed. My only complaint is that the pain will never go away completely. I can tell you that I work out five days a week on free weights and have been doing so three months after my surgery without a recurrence. My complaint is that the pain to my right side still persists. When I ask doctors about it, they don't have a clue.

Comment from: chipUSMC, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: September 10

I was recently unfortunately able to experience a pneumothorax. I fell down some stairs, fracturing three ribs and collapsing my lung. When I got to the hospital, the lung was 20% collapsed. By the time I was seen, it had gotten to 75% collapsed. A chest tube was placed. A couple days later, I was released and went home. I had many problems in the days to come. The Percocet wasn't enough to treat the pain. After going to the hospital a number of times, I was finally put on Dilaudid.

Comment from: KC, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: September 10

I am still recovering from a spontaneous pneumothorax. I was home for six days with a tube in my chest, which was not fun. After that did not work, I went in for surgery where they removed a part of my lung and scuffed up my chest wall to re-stick the lung to the wall. Apparently, spontaneous pneumothorax can be hereditary. My dad, my brother, and I have all had it; the only difference was that I had it on my left side, and they had it on their right side. If you experience any symptoms, go to the ER right away!

Comment from: nomorecollapsedlung, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: January 16

I was sitting down smoking. After a while felt a weird pain in my back. I got up to go take a shower right after and my body started acting weird and could not catch my breath. I saw doctor and was prescribed antibiotics and a steroid shot thinking it was upper respiratory infection or bronchitis. A week later, I was still hurting and not breathing went back to doctor. A week after that, I went back as I was not feeling better at all. The doctor sent me to get blood work for a blood clot and an X-ray. The X-ray tech said your lung is 100% collapsed and you need a chest tube quickly. I told them I'd been like this for two weeks now! I was rushed to the hospital where the chest tube was placed. I spent three nights in hospital and now it has been about four weeks since I got out. I have no problems. I was a long-time smoker since I was a teenager, but I haven't had a puff since right before I went in the hospital to do the X-ray! It was a terrible experience, but it got me to quit smoking!

Comment from: kevin, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: November 26

The pain was the worst I have ever suffered. I have had ruptured discs before but that pain was not as severe. I am slowly getting better two and a half months later and I am assured I will be back to normal health very soon.

Comment from: paula, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 18

I have just been released from hospital after having my fifth pneumothorax. After my third, I was operated on to stop this happening. My lung collapsed again about 10 days after the operation and now again 14months later. I have now had the talc put into my chest to see if this helps only doctors are not too optimistic. I do not fit the normal stereotype for pneumothorax, I am female, 5'2 and slightly overweight, never smoked or taken drugs.

Comment from: janlev, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 10

I had a spontaneous pneumothorax two years ago. Unfortunately when I got to the ER, they thought I was having an anxiety attack and left me untreated for over two hours. When they finally X-rayed my chest, they saw my lung was collapsed. They had to insert the tube so quickly they couldn't give me any medicine for the pain. I had a chest tube in for eight days. Six months to the day later I had another one in the same lung and had 3/4 of my lung removed. I still experience pain and fatigue every day!!!

Comment from: 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 09

I had a pneumothorax back in June of 2009. I went to my doctor and he gave me some injections in my lower and upper back for my back pain and in the process, he punctured my lung with the needle. It was immediate pain that I can no t describe. I spent 5 long miserable days in the hospital with a chest tube inserted in my side. It was so uncomfortable. I often get small stabbing like pain along with a burning sensation in the area where the needle went in and it scares the life out of me that I'm going to end up with another pneumothorax. Needless to say, I don't ever want to see another needle again in my life. And not to mention, the doctor that did this to me that I had been seeing for a number of years has never even contacted me to see if I had even survived!

Comment from: crappygenetics, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 04

I have a simple small pneumothorax. I have had chest and back pain for months. The only external symptom I have had is swelling in my right breast and back. I figured that I might have another pulmonary embolism (I had one 8 years ago), so my Dr. ordered a chest x-ray. When I asked her which side, she wouldn't tell, said "not a big deal" I disagree. Steroids helped. I'm good at self diagnosis. It IS a big deal, hurts plenty and makes me really feel tired. I finally got part of this problem figured out. I just need to remember that nausea and lung problems can go together.

Comment from: Nagarjun, 19-24 Male Published: January 11

It was a unfortunate Sunday where spontaneous pneumothorax (collapse of right lung) occurred when I was just sitting in front of my computer without doing any hard/physical work. I was unable to breathe for about 10min and with terrific pain in the chest. I was able to take breathe slowly as time passed with cough and pain still remained. The next day I consulted a doctor, and he referred me to immediately consult a pulmonologist. He immediately told me to admit to the hospital so that they can start the treatment. They made a one-inch hole, put a chest pipe in, to remove the negative air into sachet which contained water in it. I suffered with back bone pain for two full days. Later, my right lung came to its original size and doctor suggested me 1month of rest. The important thing is I don't smoke and drink and there was no single reason left behind for the cause of this drastic incident.

Comment from: nikaye, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 04

I had my lung collapse two times back in November. I was the in the hospital for three days the first time with a chest tube, and the second time, I had to have surgery to stick my lung to the chest wall to keep it from collapsing again. I am still in pain from it, so I don't want it to happen again. I worry about that every day. I know to doctors it's as simple as getting dressed, but for me it's life-changing.

Comment from: julie, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: December 29

I suffered a pneumothorax 14 years ago when I was 23. I am now 37 and touch wood it has not happened again. I have never smoked or taken any drugs, but I am tall and thin. Now and again when I am feeling unwell and tired I do get mild symptoms of the pain and think “not again,” but then after rest, it has eased off.

Comment from: Buster, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: November 24

My father just had a pneumothorax driving home from the hospital where he was asking his doctor about some spots on his chest X-ray. He had to go to the ER at another hospital about 40 minutes away closer to his home. He walked in and passed out in the ER. They didn't put a chest tube in for an hour thinking that he had a heart attack. He was brain dead from lack of oxygen to the brain and passed away a week later. Go to a good hospital if you get a pneumothorax.

Comment from: 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: November 18

I had pneumothorax happen to me 3 times. 1. I was in the shower and lifted my arm and sudden pains to my chest. I sat down only to be more short of breath and weakened by the pain. I went to hospital to be placed on oxygen for 6 hours and then released with recovering results. 2. I was sitting at my computer and suddenly I couldn't breathe. This time, I went a step further with them putting a tube in to suck the air out of my side. After an overnight stay, I was released with hopes that I wouldn't return. 3. Sitting at my computer again when suddenly struck with the pain. I didn't wish to go back to hospital so soon, as it has only been about a month since I was there last. I returned to hospital as the pain was too much. This time I went a further step with receiving oxygen, the tube, then had the surgery that kept me in hospital for 1.5 weeks with the tube in my side for that time. I did not know whether or not I was to recover as the pain was clearly still present. This was around 2 months ago and I hope to never see this problem again.

Comment from: dkmsd, 0-2 Female (Caregiver) Published: November 04

Both of my children were born with pneumothoraxes. My son, first, with both of lungs completely collapsed and he had to stay in the hospital a week under an oxygen saucer. My daughter, second, (14 months later) with one lung partially collapsed. They still have no idea why it happened to either of them and now at 2 and 3 years old they both started having problems with asthma. We are worried about bigger problems popping up now.

Comment from: Fullchoke, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: October 20

I have had no less than 10 pheumothoraxes in the last 14 years, sometimes having up to 3 in one year. My left lung has always collapsed at night while sleeping. As soon as I awake, I know "due to the pain". It feels like there is something large and heavy rubbing against my chest wall, and breathing can be painful but for me taking shallow breaths did help. Depending how bad the pain was, I usually ended up in the hospital other times. I have rested at home in bed for about a week taking pain killers. I had key-hole surgery five years ago, which I thought had done the trick, but unfortunately I had three pneumothoraxes in the last 13 months.

Comment from: cuerdley, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 08

I had the very nasty experience of a spontaneous pneumothorax about 6 weeks ago. I would not wish the pain I went through on my worst enemy. Having that drain in my side is a pain only another sufferer could understand! I was 3 days with the drain in my left side and still feel that I have not yet fully recovered although I have now returned to work (no physical work yet). I have no idea what caused it but have been told that it could happen again. I would anything on Earth to avoit it.

Comment from: A Dolan, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: October 07

I had spontaneous pneumothorax. (I woke up, coughed and it went downhill from there!) I just got back from the hospital after being there 6 days.I had a drain put into me to release the air from around the lung as the first needle did not release enough air. In the end it became infected, hence the resaon I was in absolute agony with it for 5 days. This was not a nice experience at all and would never want this to happen to my worst enemy. It was that bad.

Comment from: MAR, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 07

I had a pneumothorax during an interventional radiology procedure to place a port-catheter for chemotherapy. It wasn't big ("7%"), but it hurt a lot. The doctor placed a thin tube; 6 days and 5 xrays later it wasn't much better; he moved the tube, suctioned some air and sent me home again. The next day he said it was resolved and took the tube out. The tube itself was very painful for 2-3 days when it was placed, then again when it was moved. Intermittent neck swelling also resulted from air movement. After the tube came out (one week ago), I continue to have jabbing pains in my chest. I was relieved to read on this website that, "Some scarring to the pleura develops after treatment and can result in intermittent, sharp, localized, chest pain over the short term." I look forward to this pain going away altogether so I can finally calm down.

Comment from: 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: October 07

I have had my lung collasped 5 times. The first 3 times were minor ones were I needed strong pain meds. By the 4th time I needed a chest tube which is one of the most uncomfortable things to have. The tube sticks out of the side of your chest right below the armpit next to the boob. Its hooked up to a machine and you can see the "fluid"-blood draning out. You can only be unhooked from the machine for about 20 minutes. When you have to go to the bathroom a nurse has to come in and unhook it and rehook it up when you're done. Not even a month later of having the chest tube my lung collasped the 5th time in which I needed lung surgery. A bubble was forming around my lung which needed to be removed and after sugury I needed the chest tube again. 18 years old...it sucked.

Comment from: STEACKMAN, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: March 03

I am currently in the hospital with a spontaneous pneumothorax. I woke up at 9:00am on Sat w/ sharp pain and could not breathe very well. Went into the emergency room at 10:00am and at 2:30 had a chest tube put in now 5 days later still have the tube and a few small blebs, chance of possible surgery but hoping that the pneumothorax closes with the suction that has been on and off for the last 5 days. If you should get pain and shortness of breath PLEASE GO TO THE ER ASAP !

Comment from: lungs, Published: February 01

My family has a history of collapsed lungs and I currently have lung blebs. We were diagnosed with Birt Hogg Dube Syndrome (BHD) 2 yrs ago and it is a rare genetics disease and can only be found through blood tests. Collapsed lungs or Pneumothorax seem to be related to having BHD.

Comment from: 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: November 05

I am 26 and had a spontaneous collapse last year. I woke up, went to the toilet, felt a pain in my right shoulder blade which got worse in maybe 60 seconds. Within minutes I was curled up in a ball at the bottom of the stairs in agony calling an ambulance. Shallow breaths helped, but it was the worst pain I ever experienced. Days earlier I had started to get bouts of dizziness which disappeared afterwards, prior to the collapse my doctor told me the dizziness was vertigo. I think he was wrong, dizziness can also be due to a lack of oxygen! However I fit the bill for the condition as I am tall, thin to medium build, under 30 years, ex smoker and I had used cocaine in my past, maybe I should have saw it coming. Anyway six days in hospital on a drain and one year later it hasn't happened again, and please god it won't. I hope someone can benefit from my story.

Comment from: jlg, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 29

I just got back from the hospital where I was earlier today. I went in thinking I was having a heart attack but was told it was a small (5%) spontaneous Pneumo. I was told to go easy for the next couple of weeks, but after reading what you all have gone through I definitely do not want this to get any worse. I am sure it would have progressed if I didn't go to the hospital and get a diagnosis. Lesson learned: go to the ER if you are in serious pain.

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