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Spontaneous Pneumothorax

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

A spontaneous pneumothorax is when part of your lung collapses. It happens if air collects in the pleural space (the space between your lungs and chest wall). The trapped air in the pleural space prevents your lung from filling with air, and the lung collapses. A spontaneous pneumothorax can happen in one or both lungs. A primary spontaneous pneumothorax occurs in a person with no known lung problems. A secondary spontaneous pneumothorax occurs in a person who has a known lung disease or medical condition.


AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Medicines:

  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.

    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.

    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.

    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Do not smoke:

Smoking damages your lungs and increases your risk of another pneumothorax. It causes long-term lung diseases and increases your risk of lung cancer. Talk to your primary healthcare provider if you want help to quit smoking.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider in 1 to 2 days:

You may need to return for more chest x-rays. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

For your safety:

Do not dive underwater or climb to high altitudes after a pneumothorax. Do not fly if you have an untreated or recurring pneumothorax. The change of pressure could cause another pneumothorax. Ask your primary healthcare provider when it is safe to fly, dive, or climb to high altitudes.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.

  • You hear a crackling noise or feel popping when you touch your skin.

  • You have questions about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have new or increased shortness of breath or chest pain.

  • Your throat or the front of your neck is pushed to one side.

  • You are sweating and feel like you are going to pass out.

  • Your fingernails, toenails, or lips begin to turn blue.

  • You have trouble thinking clearly.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Spontaneous Pneumothorax (Discharge Care)

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