Home
Pneumothorax Types
Spontaneous Pneumothorax
Tension Pneumothorax
Traumatic Pneumothorax
Discover
News and Research
Discussion Forums
Links and Resources
Glossary
Personal Experiences
News Archive
General Information
Advisory Panel
About Us
Disclaimer



Spontaneous Pneumothorax: Female with Allergies

My first pneumothorax happened when I was in graduate school in 1991. I do not know what caused it though the Dr. who treated me thought there may have been some connection with allergies. I was living in an apartment that had previously had a cat (I am very allergic) so I was sneezing and wheezing alot and it was an unusually bad year for seasonal allergies in that part of the country (upstate New York). I had severe chest pain (right side) and went to the E.R. where I was diagnosed (by x-ray) with a 10% pneumothorax. I was sent home with a presription to alleviate my allergy symptoms, cough syrup to avoid coughing and lifting restrictions. An x-ray a few days later confirmed that the lung had reinflated on its own. No further treatment was discussed at that time. A few months later I had a particularly nasty cold and experienced major chest pain again. I was home on break and saw a Doctor in my hometown. An x-ray showed no pneumothorax so he told me the pain was probably related to scar tissue from the original occurance.

Between 1991 and 2001 I had many other episodes of chest pain- as many as three or four a year. Sometimes the pain was accompanied by the feeling that something was shifting in my chest when I leaned over (I thought of it as a "floppy" feeling). I didn't really pay much attention to when or why they happened, but I do recall at least a few times thinking that perhaps I was having another pneumothorax but did not have the time to be seen or deal with the consequences. The pain always went away after a few days. The most memorable time that I had pain and the "floppy" feeling was about a week after my first child was born. The pain was bad enough that I took the presription pain pills given to me for recovery from delivery (I had not been taking them for that). At that time I was pretty sure I was having pneumo but was already feeling post-partum, was concerned about how my family would react (or over react) and thought the treatment might interfere with breastfeeding, which I was just beginning for the first time. The pain subsided after about 5 days. My last episode was in the spring of 2000. I was experiencing chest pain and the "floppy" feeling right before my husband was about to go out of town for several days. Once again I decided to ignore it unless the pain lasted longer than a few days. As an afterthought, I decided to look it up on the Internet. When I read that surgical intervention was often prescribed after the second occurance, I thought I better call my Doctor. (I think I easily had about a dozen occurences since the first one.) I was diagnosed with a 15% pneumothorax. In addition to being under stress because my husband was leaving town, I had also just gotten my period. I was referred to a pulinologist who recommended surgery and then send to see the Thorasic surgeon. I was not initally convinced that surgery was necessary.

All episodes had resolved themselves within a few days and the surgery would be much more painful and inconvienient than any of the episodes had been. The argument that convinced me was that I risked having a complete collapse which could be life threatening in a siutaiton where it could not be easily treated or when I was pregnant. It was the pregnancy argument that won me over. I had surgery on March 29, 2000. The goal was a bleb resection and talc pleurodesis. The surgeon (Dr. Vasales at Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey, Michigan- wonderful man!) was not able to find a bleb to resect but he did do the plerodesis. I was in the hospital for three days. The pain was pretty intense but I had great drugs in the hospital. The pain medication I was given to take at home made me extremely nauseous. By the time we found a combination of pain and anti-nausea medication that worked, I didn't need it anymore. When I went back for my check up, I was declared cured. The worst part was a short bout of depression at about a month after the surgery, which Dr. Vasales said was pretty normal. I was complete fine within six weeks. I have had very minor pain occasionally since the surgery, but nohting that made me think I was having a reoccurance. I have never had a problem with my left side.