Signs of a collapsed lung may include shortness of breath, nasal flaring, sharp chest pain, rapid heartbeat and easy fatigue, according to MedlinePlus. If the case is minor, the individual may not notice symptoms, according to WebMD.
A collapsed lung may also cause the chest to feel tight or the skin to look bluish, explains MedlinePlus. A health care provider can listen to the patient's breathing with a stethoscope to help determine if the lung is collapsed. A chest X-ray or arterial blood gas test may also be used to diagnose the lung's condition.
When the collapsed lung is severe, symptoms begin quickly and may become life-threatening, according to WebMD. Symptoms may also grow worse with changes in the altitude.
A collapsed lung is generally caused by a chest injury, explains WebMD. It may also occur due to a medical condition, such as asthma, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cystic fibrosis. A patient without underlying medical conditions may develop a collapsed lung through spontaneous pneumothorax, caused by the rupturing of an air-filled blister on the lung.
Individuals more at risk for a collapsed lung are those who smoke or are tall and thin, according to MedlinePlus. An individual who has had a collapsed lung should stop smoking to decrease the likelihood of developing another collapsed lung.