How To Get Rid Of Trapped Air In Lungs
A pneumothorax describes the condition in which air has become trapped next to a lung. Most cases occur “out of the blue” in healthy young men. Some develop as a complication from a chest injury or a lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The common symptom is a sudden sharp chest pain followed by pains when you breathe in. Treatment for a pneumothorax usually involves inserting a needle or chest-tube between the ribs to remove the excess air. But some people who have had this procedure done find that the air reaccumulates and they need another treatment. A small pneumothorax may heal on its own without any further action being taken.
In about 5% of cases the air accumulations do not resolve after removal with a needle or chest tube, and these are called persistent or recurring pneumothoraces. These patients sometimes experience severe pain or shortness of breath, and even collapse if their lungs fill up with air too much. They require emergency surgery to open up a space behind the lung so that air can be removed through a tube inserted into the chest. This kind of treatment is called a video-assisted thoracic surgical procedure. If someone has collapsed because of an untreated large or recurrent pneumothorax, he/she will need intensive care for breathing problems until it is treated.
The most common cause of a spontaneous pneumothorax is an enlarged bronchus — a muscular duct leading out of each lung lobe. Other causes include lung diseases such as emphysema, fibrosis, and cystic fibrosis; certain physical injuries like rib fractures and chest trauma; infections of the pleura (the lining of the lung); tumors within the lung itself; and genetic defects.
Most doctors believe that a person’s risk of developing a spontaneous pneumothorax increases with age because of those underlying conditions. Men over 40 are at particular risk, but women younger than 30 also get them occasionally. The first episode often occurs while the patient is sleeping, and it usually goes away quickly. About half of all episodes return in less than three months, and one third recur in less than six months. Sometimes more than one episode happens during a year. Episodes tend to happen more frequently during periods of emotional stress. Pneumothorax often develops in response to stressful situations, especially vigorous exercise. It takes time before these events trigger a full episode.
Treatment for a pneumothorax usually involves inserting a needle or chest-tube between the ribs to remove the excess air. There are several ways to treat a pneumothorax medically. One method is to insert a catheter into the chest cavity via the neck, down a vein toward the heart, and then withdraw the air back toward the mouth. Another way is to place a drain between the ribs and suck out the air with a hand pump. Both methods work well, although there are risks associated with placing a needle directly into the chest wall. Another option is to use a small incision instead of a needle to make an opening in the chest wall. Doctors may prescribe steroids to reduce inflammation around the lung. They may also give antibiotics to prevent infection. Surgery is needed in only rare cases.
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