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Pneumothorax Causes & Risks


Primary spontaneous pneumothorax occurs when there is no other underlying lung disease. It is often caused by the rupture of an air-filled sac in the lung, called a bleb or bulla.

Smoking is associated with a higher incidence of spontaneous pneumothorax.

Secondary spontaneous pneumothorax occurs as a complication of another lung disease. Lung diseases which are associated with the development of pneumothorax include:

Traumatic pneumothorax occurs as a result of a traumatic injury to the chest. The injury could be penetrating, such as a bullet or stab wound, or blunt, such as a blow to the chest or automobile accident. A traumatic pneumothorax can complicate other medical procedures that may be necessary following a traumatic injury.

Rib Fractures With Pneumothorax

© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Tension pneumothorax occurs when excessive pressure builds up around the lung and forces it to collapse. This pressure can also affect the heart’s ability to pump blood. For this reason, tension pneumothorax is considered the most serious type.

Risk Factors

The following factors increase your chance of developing pneumothorax:

  • Spontaneous pneumothorax occurs most often in tall, thin men who are between the ages of 20-40
  • Smoking
  • Having a family history of pneumothorax
  • Having other lung diseases such as COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, or pertussis
  • Suffering a trauma injury to the chest
  • Infants who require ventilator assistance are at a higher risk of developing tension pneumothorax
  • More men than women experience pneumothorax

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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