What To Do If You Have A Punctured Lung

When you breathe in, oxygen passes through your lungs and enters your bloodstream, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, but what happens when your lungs become damaged? One type of injury is a punctured lung, which causes air to escape from the lung into the area between the organ and the chest wall. Eventually, a punctured lung can collapse, according to MedicalNewsToday. The medical term for a punctured lung is pneumothorax.

There are many causes and types of punctured lungs, and it can even happen spontaneously. The most common is traumatic pneumothorax, which involves a traumatic event that causes the puncturing, such as a broken rib, stabbing, or gunshot wound, according to Healthline. The symptoms are the same across all types of punctured lungs and involve shortness of breath, chest pain that worsens when you take a deep breath, cough, rapid heart rate, and pale or blue skin (via Healthline). It's important to get a punctured lung treated as soon as possible.

Treatment depends on the severity of the punctured lung

Not all treatment for people with pneumothorax is the same. It depends on the severity of the punctured lung and how much damage has occurred.

It's completely possible for a punctured lung to heal on its own if the damage is small. This would require you to rest and suck in extra oxygen to improve your breathing, according to Healthline. However, your doctor may have you breathe in additional oxygen through a needle to help the lungs fully expand.

A large pneumothorax usually requires chest tube insertion into the area around the lungs to expel the air and may be left in for several days in severe cases. Surgery could also be a possibility for a severe enough injury, such as from a stabbing, where the lungs would not be able to heal on their own, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Even if you believe you have a punctured lung that could heal on its own, it's necessary to see a doctor immediately who can diagnose the damage and provide treatment solutions.