DESCRIPTIONPneumothorax is collapse of part or all of a lung caused by pressure from free air in the chest between the two layers of the pleura (thin membranes that cover the lung). The lung, pleura, blood vessels, and sensory nerves are involved. Pneumothorax can affect both sexes, all ages, but is most common in active young men.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Hospitalization, if the extent of lung collapse is disabling.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSSharp chest pain. Pain may extend to a shoulder or across the chest or abdomen.
Shortness of breath.
Dry, hacking cough (occasionally).
The following symptoms vary according to the degree of lung collapse and extent of underlying lung disease. Symptoms may be less acute if the child's pneumothorax develops slowly:
CAUSESRupture of a small air sac in the child's lung resulting from asthma, lung abscess or empyema, or physical exertion, such as diving, high-altitude flying, or stretching. Causes related to activity occur most often in healthy children (and young adults).
Pneumothorax due to trauma:
Penetrating wounds to the chest, which permit outside air to rush into the pleural space and cause the lung to collapse.
Complication of removing fluid from the lung (thoracentesis).
RISK FACTORSChest injury.
Chronic lung disease.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Obtain medical treatment for your child's lung disorders, such as asthma or emphysema.
Urge your child not to smoke.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
X-rays of the chest and lungs to confirm the diagnosis.
PROBABLE OUTCOMEA small pneumothorax is inconsequential and heals itself. However, if the collapse is extensive and the child's lungs have been damaged by any previous lung trouble, it can lead to respiratory failure and critical illness.
Treatment depends on the size of the pneumothorax and the condition of the child's lung. The disorder may heal itself, but hospitalization and treatment may be necessary to remove the air.
HOME CAREInstructions for your child:
Try not to cough.
Avoid loud talking, laughing, or singing.
You may be more comfortable if you rest in a sitting position.
MEDICATIONMedication usually is not necessary. However, you may give your child non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen, for minor pain. For severe pain, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your child should stay as active as strength allows but should rest often. Normal activities may be resumed as soon as possible. Allow about 2 weeks for your child's recovery.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When breathing and stamina return to normal and when signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of pneumothorax.
The following occurs during treatment:
-- Temperature rises to 101F (38.3C).
-- Chest pain or shortness of breath increases.
-- Painful, debilitating coughing or sputum production begins.