Skip to Content

Traumatic Pneumothorax


A traumatic pneumothorax is when part of your lung collapses. A traumatic pneumothorax is caused by an injury that tears your lung and allows air to enter the pleural space. This is the area between your lungs and your chest wall. The air trapped in your pleural space prevents your lung from filling with air, which causes it to collapse. A pneumothorax can happen in one or both lungs. Injuries that cause a traumatic pneumothorax include bike accidents, motor vehicle accidents, gunshot wounds, and knife wounds.



  • Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine will help fight or prevent an infection. Take your antibiotics until they are gone, even if you feel better.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her 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.

Breathing exercises:

You may need to do breathing exercises to strengthen your lungs. Ask your healthcare provider how to do these exercises, and how long you should do them.

Do not smoke:

If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information about how to stop smoking if you need help.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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 healthcare provider when it is safe to fly, dive, or climb to high altitudes.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have new or worse signs and symptoms.
  • You have questions about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You are sweating and feel like you are going to pass out.
  • Your fingernails, toenails, or lips begin to turn blue.
  • Your neck veins become larger than usual.
  • Your throat or the front of your neck is pushed to one side.
  • You have new or increased shortness of breath.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 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 IBM Watson Health

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Traumatic Pneumothorax (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex