You have suffered from a collapsed, or partly collapsed, lung (pneumothorax).
- If not severe (or you don’t have lung disease), you may have been told that your lung would be expected to re-expand on its own
- Or it may have been treated by sucking the air out of the chest via a thin plastic tube (aspiration)
Either way, there is a very small chance that the lung may collapse again before it has had a chance to heal. This may cause you to feel short of breath or give you a pain in the chest, probably similar to how you felt when the lung first collapsed. This is not dangerous, but you must return to the Emergency Department as soon as possible for further assessment.
To help expand your lung and prevent infection, especially if you are a smoker, the following advice is important:
- Do regular deep breathing exercises, ie, 5 deep breaths every hour
- If you feel the need to cough, you should cough in order to clear any phlegm, although it may be painful
- Keep mobile, eg, walk around regularly and return to work. Also ensure you keep a good posture with your chest out, shoulders back and do not lean to one side
- If needed, take regular painkilling tablets, either as prescribed or bought over the counter, eg, paracetamol and ibuprofen
- Air travel should be avoided until the lung has fully expanded on a chest X-ray. Check with the doctor in the clinic and your airline who will generally advise a gap of 1 week after full resolution (BTS 2010)
- Diving should be permanently avoided unless a surgical pleurectomy has been done on both sides (get specialist advice)
- Vigorous sport and other strenuous activities are usually best avoided until you have been seen again in the clinic
- Take the chance to stop smoking as this will reduce the chance of recurrence, as well as help your general health
You will be given an appointment to return to the Department for review, usually with a further X-ray before seeing the doctor. It is important that you keep this appointment. If you need to change it, or want advice, please telephone the Emergency Department on the number below.
This page gives guidance only. If you have any queries or your symptoms worsen, please contact your GP or the Emergency Department on 01935 384 256.