Facebook Pixel

Pneumothorax Symptoms & Diagnosis


If you experience any of the symptoms listed below, do not assume it is due to pneumothorax. These symptoms are often caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any of them, see your physician.

Symptoms of pneumothorax may occur while you are awake or while you are asleep. They can include:

  • Sudden, sharp pain in the chest that becomes worse during coughing or taking deep breaths
  • Acute shortness of breath
  • Fever (mild)
  • Fatigue
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Bluish color of the skin due to a lack of oxygen
  • Flaring of the nostrils
  • Feelings of anxiety , stress, and tension
  • Hypotension, or low blood pressure
  • A distended abdomen


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. He or she may notice that the affected side of your chest has reduced or absent breath sounds during the stethoscope examination. Other tests may be performed, such as:

  • Chest x-ray —may be performed to determine if there is air outside the lung.
  • CT scan —may be performed instead.
  • Ultrasound —an alternative option for those who can’t be moved, commonly used in trauma cases.
  • EKG—reads electrical activity in the heart.
  • Pulse oximetry—noninvasive way to measure your oxygen status.

Since the development of pneumothorax can be delayed in the case of traumatic pneumothorax, repeating x-rays the day after the injury may be needed.

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.

The Latest in Pneumothorax Symptoms & Diagnosis

ASK Your Health Question

It's FREE and you'll get a response within 24 hours


POST Info, Tips & Stories

Inspire others to learn from your experiences. Tell your story!

Get Email Updates

Pneumothorax Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!