Atelectasis vs Pneumothorax

Atelectasis and Pneumothorax are respiratory conditions that are both life-threatening. It may may lead to serious complication and death.

Ruptured Lung

Atelectasis vs Pneumothorax is both a lung concern that experiences chest pain and breathing difficulties. This is a life-threatening situation that may lead to serious complications and death. Although when it is diagnosed immediately and treated promptly the risks can be mitigated. By taking measures to prevent causes and accidents that may lead to lung complication it may reduce the threat of emergency scenarios.

What are Atelectasis and Pneumothorax?

Atelectasis is a breathing condition that affects the lungs, as it is in a state of partial collapse. This situation may take place as the air sacs are blocked with alveolar fluid making it difficult to breathe. Imagine a kitchen sink, there is a tiny hole there so that water can flow through while washing. If that hole is blocked by small substances the water can’t pass through such in the case of atelectasis. Meanwhile, Pneumothorax is a lung condition that has already collapsed due to the air leaks that it has acquired. These air leaks occupy the space between the lungs and the part of the chest wall. To simply put it air is filling all the spaces in the chest and lungs which is very dangerous.

Atelectasis and Pneumothorax Causes

Causes of this lung condition may come from internal and external, through both lung concerns are directly connected with collapses, their origins are different.

Atelectasis Cause

Atelectasis’cause of lung condition may be more internal and a combination of inner and outer causes. It has two types:

  • Obstructive Atelectasis: the airways are filled with some substance that prevents the air from passing through the alveoli and eventual experience a partial or full collapse.
  • Nonobstructive Atelectasis: this is not initiated by any internal blockage but by injuries, surgery, infection, and malfunction.

Example Causes are the following:

  • Mucus plug: This is present among children and people with asthma. It is a mucus filling in the airways that prevents the lungs to breathe deep and unusual. This too can be acquired through surgeries, as medication can contribute to the mucus development inside the body.
  • Tumor: This is an unusual development of cells inside the body that just grew out of an imbalance nature. This may also cause limited to no air passage as it can be a blockage to the airways.
  • Foreign objects: these are micro-small to small substances that people can acquire by inhaling in the surrounding. This may block the airways and cause a serious medical emergency.
  • Injuries: This can happen anytime and may be categorized as an accident, as this doesn’t happen usually. This could be in the form of falling, punching, car accident, or anything that has a great force that can cause chest trauma. The effect is painful and limited ability to take breaths.

Pneumothorax Causes

In the condition of pneumothorax, this may be more external but has some crucial internal developments. Here are its two forms:

  • Traumatic Pneumothorax: this condition usually happens as a physical impact causing it to happen. This could be intentional or accidental, mainly like injuries.
  • Nontraumatic Pneumothorax: This type is also known as spontaneous pneumothorax. As it can happen to people who don’t have any kind of lung disease. This can occur with men, young men, who are tall and slim. Another target is the older people who have an issue or even a history with lung problems.

Example Causes are the following:

  • Physical Sports: Playing physical sports like basketball, American football, and boxing may lead to traumatic pneumothorax. By physically being impacted by a tackle or a punch the lungs will feel a force that can affect breathing. Worst comes to worst it may trigger something severe.
  • Vehicle Accident: as part of an extreme car crash or motor crash, thrown away on the air and landing hard has a great impact on the lungs which allows heavy breathing or even may simply stop.
  • Altitude Activities: Air levels in scuba diving and mountain climbing can affect the lungs and may result in traumatic pneumothorax. As the air gets thinner the lungs also adjust or the air may have some blisters that may develop inside the lungs causing it to collapse.

Symptoms of Atelectasis and Pneumothorax

Atelectasis symptoms usually happen as a blockage so mostly it takes time to happen as it develops for a certain period. It could develop slow, or fast which is more troublesome as it may limit the amount of oxygen the blood that leads to chest pain, difficulty breathing, and a faster heartbeat.

In the case of Pneumothorax, it usually happens on the spot after the incident or injury took place. It normally starts first as chest pain, and then the difficulty in breathing comes next. That could be dyspnea then having some tightness on the chest making the person feel a cold sweat and pressured.

Treatment of Atelectasis and Pneumothorax

The treatment for atelectasis and pneumothorax is depended on the symptoms and diagnosis of the problem. The level of difficulty and the actual situation is greatly considered in this process.

Atelectasis involves two forms of treatment:

  • Nonsurgical Treatment: this involves the use of minor tools in extracting mucus and other liquids that blocks the airways. Or uses exercises to practice the alveoli and make it open.
  • Surgical Treatment: this case involves the removal of a small area in the affected part of the lungs, the last option as a worst-case scenario.

Pneumothorax has two forms of treatment:

  • Surgical: This treatment is done on specific situations that need surgical attention. Two options of the several types of surgery for this is the Thoracoscopy and the Thoracotomy.
  • Non-surgical: non-severe treatments that are based upon the observation on the patient. Depending on the status it could be recommended to do the Draining of Excess Air where a needle or chest tube is used to extract and drain the air inside the lungs.


Atelectasis and Pneumothorax may give great concern ones it is not attended with immediate medical attention. Pneumothorax may be of the Atelectasis causes, though both are different they are connected and is a major concern for the lungs. It is best to quickly seek medical consultation if any symptoms or unusual happens with the breathing.

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