I've just come out of hospital for a small right-side pneumothorax. I developed chest pain during a flight last week but ignored it and it settled down after a couple of hours. However, on the way back on Wednesday the pain suddenly became much worse and I was very breathless.

Again I ignored it for a couple of days (stupid, I know), until I visited the GP on Friday. At the hospital the x-ray confirmed a pneumothorax on the right, and also air trapped under the skin where it had leaked out from the lung. Because it seemed to be resolving anyway (the doctors thought it had been bigger earlier in the week when it happened), I just spent 24 hours on high-flow oxygen and that seemed to speed up the resolution and the next x-ray was much better.

The doctors didn't really tell me much about it, and I have a couple of weeks before I see my consultant. Does anybody know why it happened? I wasn't having problems with my asthma at the time (I have brittle asthma and bronchiectasis), and I'm not male/tall/thin as one nurse suggested! I'm pleased it wasn't more serious, but still a bit confused....


5 Replies

  • Carrie,

    It appears that pneumothorax can occur for a number of reasons, even just because we have asthma, see here


  • Its unlikely the asthma caused your pneumothorax. However if you cough allot this can be the case. However from your story I believe that it started when you were flying was a cause as the pressure during flight etc.

    You were lucky that it didnt require a chest drain as this can be painful!

  • Thank you for the replies.

    I was indeed very lucky not to have needed a chest drain! The doctors kept telling me that I should have come in earlier, and also that they were sure it had been larger earlier in the week, and that that was where all the air udner the skin came from. However, if it had been larger it would have needed aspiration or a drain, so hardly a great incentive to come in earlier!

    Anyway, I have an appointment with my consultant next week, so I'm hoping he'll be able to explain a little more for me. I have been very nervous about doing physio/coughing/sneezing as it just hurt so much, but I'm getting a little more relaxed now that I realise that it shouldn't make it go down again.


  • Hi Carrie,

    I hope this finds you feeling a bit better. You sound quite similar to me, I have asthma & Bronchiectasis and have also had several pneumothoraces.

    As you know a pneumothorax occurs when air is present in the pleural space i.e in between your lung and your chest wall. As air accumulates here it can force your lung to collapse causing the sharp pain and shortness of breath.

    Pneumothoraces can occurr in healthly people for no apparent reason (typically young tall thin men!) this is usually called a 'spontaneous pneumothorax.' A pneumothorax can occurr for other reasons they are quite common following road traffic accidents or after penetrating trauma to the chest.

    Pneumothoraces can also occurr in people with lung disease, often when a weak area (bulla) pops letting air escape from the lung into the pleural cavity.

    Treatment is as you mention either observation, aspiration (where they release the air with a needle) or the placement of a chest drain.

    I would try not to worry too much at present, easier said than done I know! Discuss this with your consultant at your next Outpatient appointment. In the meantime I would take it easy and avoid any heavy lifting.

    Hope this helps,

    PM me if you want


  • Hi carrie, I had two small pneumothoraces last year, one after another, i like you did not require any treatment just a few xrays to keep an eye on them. They do cause a lot of pain in your back. I remeber this well and i did from time to time get a sharp pain as well. I found once it had gone away if i laughed i got cramp in my ribs area. Do not worry too much about the Pneumothorax, if the pain comes back go straight to your GP and explain situation but apart from that go on as you did before.

    My first one i got from lots of coughing with asthma. My second one from flying, going up was so painful.

    If you want to chat more message or pm me


You may also like...