What are the Causes and Symptoms of Air in Lungs?

Air in Lungs

The lungs are responsible for the regulation of both entry and exit of air. There are certain limits with regards to the volume of air within the lungs. If the residual volume varies from the normal, a disruption would exist in the overall respiration. Air trapped within or around the cavity disables the lungs from expanding. The pleura, which separates a person’s lungs from the chest wall, has two layers. The fluid contained in between allows the normal movement of the lungs. Introduction of air into this space compromises breathing.

Air in Lungs Symptoms

For the most part, the symptoms depend on the amount of air trapped outside the lungs.

  • Dyspnea.
  • Tachypnea. This is almost always accompanied by severe, sharp, and unilateral chest pain which worsens with chest movement.
  • Sudden, stabbing chest pain. Pain felt may radiate to the arms, face, back, or upper abdomen. The pain is sudden and worsens with deep breathing.
  • Anxiety and restlessness. Such symptoms are associated with respiratory distress. These are accompanied by other symptoms such as jugular vein distention and a weak, rapid pulse.
  • Dry cough.
  • Cyanosis. A bluish discoloration in the mucosa is usually present because of altered oxygenation.
  • Abnormal breath sounds. Upon examination, hyper resonance or tympany, crepitation, and diminished or absent breath sounds may be assessed. This may reflect the reduced airflow to a lung segment.
  • Asymmetrical chest expansion. The pain and injury cause cessation of normal chest movement.
  • Hamman’s sign. A cardinal sign of pneumothorax, this is characterized by a loud, crushing, crunching sound that synchronizes with each heartbeat.

Air in Lungs Causes

The nature of the disorder can either be due to air outside of the body, or air present within or around the lungs. The causes of the presence of air in lungs primarily depend on the type of pneumothorax.

  • Smoking. This is a common precipitating factor in people manifesting signs of spontaneous pneumothorax. This type of pneumothorax is not due to a sustained injury.
  • Changes in atmospheric pressure. This includes scuba diving, travelling, and even exposure to surprisingly loud sounds.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. In here pneumothorax occurs as a secondary condition. Some examples of COPD include asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. It is by far the most common reason of the presence of air in lungs.
  • Trauma. An injury into the chest wall, such as a gunshot, accident, or stabbed wound, allows the incessant entry of air.