A collapsed lung (pneumothorax) is a buildup of air in the space between your child's lung and the chest wall. As more air builds up in this space, the pressure against the lung makes the lung collapse. This causes shortness of breath and chest pain because your child's lung cannot fully expand.
A collapsed lung is usually caused by an injury to the chest, but it may also occur suddenly without an injury because of a lung illness. Your child's lung may collapse after lung surgery or another medical procedure. Sometimes it happens for no known reason.
Treatment depends on the cause of the collapse. It may heal with rest, although the doctor will want to keep track of your child's progress. It can take several days for the lung to expand again. The doctor may have drained the air with a needle or tube inserted into the space between your child's chest and the collapsed lung. If your child has a chest tube, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions about how to care for the tube.
Your child may need further treatment if he or she is not getting better. Surgery is sometimes needed to keep the lung inflated. The doctor will want to keep track of your child's progress, so your child will need a follow-up examination within a few days.
The doctor has checked your child carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: March 25, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
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