What Is a Punctured Lung?
A punctured lung is a serious injury that can significantly restrict a person’s ability to breathe. Aside from oxygen deprivation, punctured lungs can lead to other serious conditions if they are not treated immediately. However, if a person receives immediate medical care for a punctured lung, the treatment will usually be able to eliminate most of the ongoing and future health complications presented by the injury.
Unfortunately, because a punctured lung is an internal injury, this damage can be hard to identify at first. It is crucial that any person involved in an accident understand the early warning signs and symptoms that could indicate that a lung has been punctured.
You may also hear punctured lungs referred to as a pneumothorax or a collapsed lung. These injuries occur when the air begins to fill the spaces between two layers of your lung’s tissue lining. The air in these spaces puts pressure on the lung itself and significantly restricts how much the lung can expand. This results in a victim having trouble breathing and getting oxygen into their bloodstream.
What Are the Most Common Causes of a Punctured Lung?
Punctured lungs usually occur after a person has experienced trauma to their chest area.
This can include:
- Vehicle accidents
- Being struck by an object
- Or any other traumatic incident that impacts the chest
Sometimes, outside trauma will tear open lung tissue. However, these injuries often occur when a broken rib punctures the tissue lining of the lung.
Recognizing the Symptoms of a Punctured Lung
Most people will not be able to tell right away that they have punctured a lung. Since this is generally an internal injury, there are other signs and symptoms you need to be aware of.
The most common indicator of a punctured lung is chest pain. Even a minor pain that seems like general soreness after a car accident or other trauma could be an indicator that long has been punctured.
You should always report any signs of chest pain to a medical professional as soon as possible. Punctured lung victims often only feel pain on one side of their body.
What Are the Symptoms of a Punctured Lung?
The most common symptoms of a punctured lung can include:
- Chest pains that sharpen when you inhale, take deep breaths, or cough
- Chest discomfort or tightness
- Increased heart rate or a weakened pulse
- Pale or blue skin
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing
Why You Should Always Seek Medical Attention After a Car Accident
There are many signs and symptoms that could indicate a punctured lung, and most of these will not show up immediately after an accident occurs. When a person’s adrenaline begins pumping after an initial incident, they may fail to recognize any pain or symptoms, particularly the signs of internal injuries.
That is why it is a good idea to seek immediate medical care after an accident occurs, even if you do not feel much pain. If you do not seek treatment right away after an accident, and later began to feel the symptoms mentioned above, call 911 or have someone take you to the emergency room as soon as possible.
Treatment for Punctured Lungs
The severity of a punctured lung will determine the exact treatment needed. Treatment may involve using a needle to puncture the space where pressure is accumulating to release the air.
This could also include draining the air with a temporarily inserted chest tube. A punctured lung may need surgery in order to repair the damage. When a person receives prompt medical attention, a punctured lung will usually heal within 6 to 8 weeks.