What is a collapsed lung?

A collapsed lung is when the lung fails to expand (inflate) completely. This may be caused by a blocked airway, a tumor, general anesthesia, pneumonia or other lung infections, lung disease, or long-term bedrest with shallow breathing. The clinical term is atelectasis.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.



A pneumothorax is where air leaks into the chest wall and the lung collapses because of the change in pressure. The loss of use of that lung may cause pain and difficulty breathing. (This answer provided for NATA by the University of Montana Athletic Training Education Program.)
A pneumothorax, or collapsed lung, is the collection of air in the space around the lungs. It may be caused by chest trauma, rib fracture, certain medical procedures, select lung conditions and, in some cases, there may be no direct cause. Additionally, some activities such as scuba diving, smoking, and high-altitude biking and flying can cause a pneumothorax.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.