Collapsed lung : Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Symptoms & Signs

Almost everyone who has a collapsed lung has the following symptoms:

  • Sharp chest pain, made worse by a deep breath or a cough
  • Shortness of breath

A larger pneumothorax will cause more severe symptoms, including:

  • Chest tightness
  • Easy fatigue
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Bluish color of the skin caused by lack of oxygen

Note: Symptoms may begin during rest or sleep.

Other symptoms that can occur with a collapsed lung include:

  • Nasal flaring
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)

Diagnosis & Tests

There are decreased or no breath sounds on the affected side when heard through a stethoscope.

Tests include:

  • Chest x-ray to tell whether there is air outside the lung
  • Arterial blood gases


Review Date : 8/19/2009
Reviewed By : David A. Kaufman, MD, Section Chief, Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, Bridgeport Hospital-Yale New Haven Health System, and Assistant Clinical Professor, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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