What Causes Spontaneous Pneumothorax?

The term pneumothorax refers to a condition in which air has passed from the lung into the space between the lung and the cest wall. This causes a pressure gradient which forces the lung to give up space and “collapse” (the degree depends on the amount of air that escapes).

In the instance of spontaneous primary pneumothorax, there is usually a “bleb” or weakness in the pleura or covering of the lung that breaks open, and allows the air to escape. Chest pain on the side of the pneumothorax is the most common symptom, but it usually stops after the episode is remedied.

Spontaneous pneumothorax occurs more commonly in thin males, most typically between the ages of 10 and 30. It is about one-third as common in women (six out of 100,000 cases a year). The term “spontaneous,” in this context, describes the event as being unrelated to any obvious cause.

This differentiates it from traumatic pneumothorax, which is a result of an injury to the chest. Primary spontaneous pneumothorax is the term used when there is no underlying cause. Secondary spontaneous pneumothorax is when the pneumothorax results from an underlying lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary (lung) disease (COPD).

Any questions or concerns about this condition should certainly be addressed with a physician.

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