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Pulmonary Contusion: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Pulmonary contusion is another name for a bruised lung. A blow to your chest, such as from hitting a car steering wheel or air bag, can bruise your lung.

If the injury isn't too bad, you may feel some soreness in your chest and then start to feel better in a few days. If the injury is more serious, you may have a lot of pain from damaged muscles, cartilage, or ribs in your chest. You may even have coughed up blood after the injury.

Your doctor may advise you to cough and take deep breaths, even though your chest hurts. Breathing deeply and coughing can help keep the air passages in your lungs open and free of mucus.

A bruised lung can take one or more weeks to heal, depending on how badly your lungs were injured.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Learn how to do controlled coughing to clear mucus from your lungs. Your doctor or nurse can teach you how to do this.
  • If the doctor gave you an incentive spirometer, use it as instructed. An incentive spirometer is a handheld device that helps you take deep breaths and exercise your lungs.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have severe trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse trouble breathing.
  • You have new or worse pain when breathing.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You have a fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.