Punctured Lung Recovery

Trauma from a knife wound, a gunshot or a car accident can lead to a punctured lung. When the lung is punctured, it causes a traumatic pneumothorax which is a collection of air between the lung tissue and the pleural space or the chest cavity. A punctured lung can be repaired with chest tube and oxygen to alleviate air. However, severe traumatic pneumothorax may require surgery. Then what should you do for a better recovery?

Guidelines for Punctured Lung Recovery

1.   Take Prescribed Medications

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, medical history and allergies that may be present, the doctor may prescribe pain medications during the first few weeks of the treatment. Take the medication when you feel the pain begins. 

2.   Stay Active While Taking Enough Rest

In the case of a punctured lung, bed rest is necessary; however, you can also rest while sitting up, or doing low impact activities like walking. It is imperative that you do not push yourself to resume regular activities immediately because this may trigger another collapse. The breathing pattern and the volume should be normal and pain at its lowest before you can engage in high impact exercise or household chores.

3.   Recline in the First Few Days

Breathing can be quite difficult in the first few days. The way you sleep determines the ease of breathing. Sleeping in a recliner in an upright position will cause less downward pressure on the lungs and chest cavity. Recliner sleep will also make lying down and getting up easier. You can use a pillow on the affected side to make the chair more comfortable and help in the punctured lung recovery.

4.   Being Careful with Padding and Clothing Options

It is essential that you avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the ribcage. Most patients are tempted to pad the region to help ease the pain. Unless this is done correctly, it may cause more harm. Avoid taping the chest or ribs because this may impair respiration and aggravate the problem. It is recommended that you wear loose-fitting clothing, especially during the first few days. If you must put on a bra, then a bra larger than regular size or a sports bra is the best option.

5.   Avoid Smoking

If you are a smoker, when you inhale any type of smoke during the recovery process, it will cause stress on the lungs and may lengthen the healing process. Cease or avoid smoking until all symptoms have reduced considerably. You can seek other alternatives such as nicotine pills or patches to help you cope up without a cigarette. But it is advised that you should quit smoking completely for your lung health.

6.   Avoid Sudden Air Pressure Change

This is another important tip in the punctured lung recovery. You should avoid a sudden air pressure change which will cause stress on the lungs. You should avoid flying; you can go by bus, train or car, or you can postpone the trip until you have been cleared by the doctor. Moreover, you should avoid high-altitude areas, hiking, and tall buildings until the recovery process is complete. Swimming, scuba diving, and any other water sport should also be avoided during the recovery process.

7.   Avoid Driving Until Full Recovery

According to medical experts, you should avoid driving until you have fully recovered. Your reaction time is usually slower and this could interfere with your driving. Moreover, the medications prescribed could have an impact on your judgment and response. It is important to ensure that all the pain is gone and the medical doctor has cleared you to driving.

8.   Watch for Recurrence

There is no long-term effect on your health when your punctured lung has recovered fully. However, once your lung has collapsed, it increases the chances of it occurring again if proper care is not taken. Over half of the patients who have had an incident of collapsed lung have had it again especially in the first few months. You should note all the symptoms and take proper care to avoid any triggers. Whenever you feel that you are about to experience the symptoms, then you should seek immediate medical care.

9.   Try Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises, especially deep breathing exercises, will help you to heal from pneumothorax. Lie on your back and place the palms on the abdominal area. Breathe in slowly and deeply, using your abdomen to inflate your lungs with fresh air. Deep breathing exercises will help in delivering air to the lower part of the lungs and this minimizes chances of getting atelectasis. In addition, you can try humming while breathing out. Hold on to the sound as long as you can. You can repeat the exercise for 2-3 minutes.

10.   Never Miss Follow-Up Test

Follow-up is essential for the punctured lung recovery. The follow-up usually includes outpatient physical examination and a repeat of the x-ray examination. The recovery process can take about a couple of weeks and it is imperative that you should wait for your doctor’s clearance before resuming full activity.

When to See a Doctor

It is essential that you call emergency medical services if you experience any of these emergencies after surgery.

  • Chest pains do not respond to medication.
  • You have difficulty breathing.
  • Your lips or fingernails are turning bluish or gray.
  • You experience a feeling that you will die.
  • Blood sips when you have a cough.

Moreover, do not underestimate or neglect the following symptoms.

  • You are anxious. 
  • You are sweating.
  • You feel cold.
  • You have chest pains when breathing.
  • You are disoriented.
  • You expel blood stained mucus when coughing.
  • The area is painful and redder.
  • The wound is warm to feel.
  • You have bodily fluids like pus or blood ooze from the wound area.
  • Body temperature is beyond 38.6 °C or 101.5° F.
  • You feel muscle aches.
  • You experience trouble breathing at night.