Pneumothorax is a term used for the accumulation of air in the pleural space, which is a thin wall between the lungs and the chest cavity. The pressure from the air that accumulates it can trigger the loss of the lungs to collapse.
In general, the pneumothorax is divided into two. When it occurs in a healthy person, this condition is called primary pneumothorax. In contrast, the pneumothorax experienced by complications from certain lung diseases is called secondary pneumothorax.
Symptoms of Pneumothorax
Increased pressure in the pleura will prevent the lungs from ballooning as we inhale. This condition can cause chest pain and shortness of breath.
However, both symptoms can also indicate a variety of other diseases. Therefore, you need to be alert and consult yourself to the doctor if you experience it.
Causes and Risk Factors of Pneumothorax
Pneumothorax can be experienced suddenly by a healthy person, as well as a form of complication from certain lung conditions. Some types of causes and risk factors behind this condition include:
- Lung damage caused by certain diseases, such as Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD), pneumonia, and tuberculosis.
- A chest injury that injures the lungs, such as a gunshot wound or broken ribs.
- Tear off a small air bag located on the surface of the lungs. This condition is commonly experienced by people with primary pneumothorax. The air bag (bleb) is formed without symptoms and this is outside the normal air bags (alveoli) in the lungs. The cause of bleb rupture also can not be ascertained. The released air will be trapped in the pleural cavity.
- Use breathing apparatus, for example ventilator.
- Smoking. Cigarette smoke is thought to attenuate the bleb wall so that the risk of pneumothorax increases.
- Gender. This condition is more often experienced by men than women.
- Age. Primary pneumothorax tends to occur at a young age, which is about 20 to 40 years.
- Hereditary factors. 1 in 9 people with pneumothorax are estimated to have family members with the same health condition.
- Have experienced pneumothorax. Most people who have been affected by this condition have the potential to return to experience it.
Diagnosis of Pneumothorax
At the beginning of the examination, the doctor will ask for symptoms and medical history of patients and families. The patient will then undergo a physical examination and chest rontgent to confirm the diagnosis. These rontgent results generally allow doctors to detect pneumothorax.
If needed, doctors will also recommend ultrasound and CT scan. This diagnostic step is used to check the severity of the patient's condition.
Step Treatment of Pneumothorax
The main purpose of this treatment is to reduce the pressure on the lungs and prevent pneumothorax relapse.
For mild pnemothorax it means that only a small fraction of the lungs collapse and without severe respiratory distress, the patient's condition will be carefully monitored. Giving oxygen through a mask will be done if the patient has difficulty breathing. During this one-week to 10-day monitoring period, the doctor will require the patient to undergo chest x-rays periodically until the lung form recovers.
While patients with a larger lung collapse condition require treatment to remove the buried air. This is done by using a needle to help insert the hose into the chest cavity to reduce pressure and form the lungs back to normal.
The last step in the treatment of pneumothorax is surgery. This procedure is selected when other treatments do not show satisfactory results or recurrence.