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How do you treat a pneumothorax?

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Quick Answer

Treatment for a pneumothorax, which depends upon the severity of the condition, includes observation, chest tube insertion and surgery, reports Mayo Clinic. Treatment aims to depressurize the lung and prevent recurrence.

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Observation may be necessary if only a small area of the lung is collapsed, reports Mayo Clinic. Chest tube insertion involves inserting a tube into the chest cavity and sucking excess air out of the air sac that is found near the faulty lung.

Surgery may be necessary if chest tube insertion fails to relieve pressure in the collapsed lung, Mayo Clinic explains. Surgery focuses on sealing or sewing leaks around the lung. Less frequently, the surgeon may make large cuts in the chest cavity to reveal the leaks before sealing them.

Chest X-rays and computed tomography may help determine the specific cause and treatment for the condition, according to Mayo Clinic. Smoking, a family or personal history of the disease, mechanical ventilation and lung disease may render a person vulnerable to the condition.

Symptoms include shortness of breath and unexpected chest pain, states Mayo Clinic. A person with such symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. Causes of pneumothorax include lung diseases, such as pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; mechanical ventilation; chest injuries, which may result from medical treatments and car crashes; and ruptured blebs on top of the lungs.

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