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A pneumothorax is an abnormal collection of air in the pleural space between the lung and the chest wall.[3] Symptoms typically include sudden onset of sharp, one-sided chest pain and shortness of breath.[2] In a minority of cases, a one-way valve is formed by an area of damaged tissue, and the amount of air in the space between chest wall and lungs increases; this is called a tension pneumothorax.[3] This can cause a steadily worsening oxygen shortage and low blood pressure and unless reversed can be fatal.[3] Very rarely, both lungs may be affected by a pneumothorax.[6] It is often called a "collapsed lung", although that term may also refer to atelectasis.[1]

A primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP) tends to occur in a young adult without underlying lung problems, and usually causes limited symptoms. Chest pain and sometimes mild breathlessness are the usual predominant presenting features.[12][13] People who are affected by a PSP are often unaware of the potential danger and may wait several days before seeking medical attention.[14] PSPs more commonly occur during changes in atmospheric pressure, explaining to some extent why episodes of pneumothorax may happen in clusters.[13] It is rare for a PSP to cause a tension pneumothorax.[12]

Secondary spontaneous pneumothoraces (SSPs), by definition, occur in individuals with significant underlying lung disease. Symptoms in SSPs tend to be more severe than in PSPs, as the unaffected lungs are generally unable to replace the loss of function in the affected lungs. Hypoxemia (decreased blood-oxygen levels) is usually present and may be observed as cyanosis (blue discoloration of the lips and skin). Hypercapnia (accumulation of carbon dioxide in the blood) is sometimes encountered; this may cause confusion and – if very severe – may result in comas. The sudden onset of breathlessness in someone with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, or other serious lung diseases should therefore prompt investigations to identify the possibility of a pneumothorax.[12][14]


Its not the cough that carries you off.... Its the coffin they carry you off in