blog home Car Accidents How Do I Know if I Have a Punctured Lung from a Car Accident?

How Do I Know if I Have a Punctured Lung from a Car Accident?

By Butler Prather LLP on May 23, 2018

A punctured lung is a very serious injury that could impede the ability to breathe. Without prompt treatment, a punctured lung from a car accident could lead to additional complications such as shock, inflammation, or fluid in the lungs. If treated quickly, however, it is a curable condition that shouldn’t cause any future health issues. Your ability to detect whether or not you’ve punctured a lung could improve your chances of making a full recovery. Here’s how to tell if you have this type of injury after an auto accident.

What Is a Punctured Lung?

A punctured lung, also called a collapsed lung or pneumothorax, is a medical condition in which air fills the space between the two layers of your lung’s tissue lining. The air puts pressure on the lungs, making it difficult or impossible for them to expand. Punctured lungs can happen from traumatic incidents or spontaneously.

How Can It Happen in a Car Accident?

Traumatic pneumothorax can occur in a car crash if something causes direct trauma to the chest. If the chest strikes the steering column, for example, it could result in a collapsed lung. A broken rib can also puncture a lung in a car accident. Spontaneous pneumothorax can occur without any precise cause.

A punctured lung can be a life-threatening condition without immediate medical treatment. Treatment can involve supplying oxygen while the lung heals on its own, releasing unwanted air using a needle, placing a tube in the chest to drain the air, or surgery to repair the lung tissue. The treatment approach will depend on the severity of the injury. Most punctured lungs take six to eight weeks to heal.

During recovery, someone with a punctured lung may need ample rest and time off from work. The patient may also have to take prescription medications, sleep in an elevated position, wear loose clothing, and avoid driving. Punctured lungs can reoccur if the lung has sustained damage in a car accident. Although punctured lungs can have complications, quick treatment can reduce the odds of further issues and improve recovery time.

What are the Symptoms of a Punctured Lung?

Recognizing a punctured lung as quickly as possible is imperative to the prognosis of the injury. One of the most prevalent signs of a punctured lung is chest pain. If you notice chest pain, either slight or severe, after a car accident, tell a paramedic. The pain may feel like general soreness, but don’t ignore it. Treat soreness in the chest as a potential symptom of a collapsed lung, especially if you only feel the pain on one side, as this is a sign of a lung injury.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain that sharpens when you inhale, cough, or take a deep breath
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Chest tightness or discomfort
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fatigue or pale/blue skin (from lack of oxygen)
  • Fever

Even if you don’t experience any of these symptoms, go to the hospital for a checkup after a car accident – especially if you suffered any type of trauma to the chest. You could have a punctured lung with hidden or delayed symptoms, or you might not notice the symptoms because of your adrenaline. Immediate medical care can ensure you catch a punctured lung in time for the best possible treatment outcome.

What to do if you Suffered a Punctured Lung in an Accident?

If you experienced the symptoms of a punctured lung, went to the hospital, and a chest x-ray or other test confirmed the injury, you may be able to recover compensation. The Georgia civil justice system permits you to seek damage recovery for your accident-related medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and disability from the at-fault driver or other party. Once you get medical treatment, contact an Atlanta personal injury attorney to discuss a punctured lung claim after your motor vehicle accident.

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Posted in: Car Accidents

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