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

Vehicle accidents occur regularly throughout the state of Oregon, and these incidents often lead to severe injuries for victims. Most people think of car accident injuries as being visible, such as broken bones, lacerations, contusions, etc. However, car accidents can often lead to unseen internal injuries. One of the most severe injuries that can occur in a vehicle accident is a punctured lung. Here, we want to discuss what a punctured lung is, how it can happen in a car accident, and what you need to do if you or a loved one have experienced a punctured lung in an accident.

What is a punctured lung?

Punctured lungs may also be referred to as a pneumothorax or a collapsed lung. This type of injury occurs when air begins to accumulate between the two layers of the lung’s tissue lining. This accumulation of air puts pressure on the lung, restricting how much it can expand. This, in turn, can result in significant breathing problems for a victim.

A punctured lung often occurs due to trauma in the chest area. A motor vehicle accident that results in a hard impact to a person’s body could result in a punctured lung. This could include an impact that causes a person’s body to strike the steering wheel, the dashboard, or any other hard surface of the vehicle. The trauma of the impact could open a tear in the lung, or a broken rib could puncture the tissue lining of the lung.

Symptoms of a punctured lung after a car accident

There are various signs and symptoms of a punctured lung that any car accident victim needs to be aware of. The most obvious symptom of a punctured lung will be chest pain, though it might not be easy to pinpoint exactly where in the chest the pain is coming from. In some cases, a punctured lung may initially feel like general soreness. Other common symptoms of a punctured lung include:

  • Sharp chest pain upon inhalation, coughing, or pain when taking a deep breath
  • Any breathing difficulty
  • Chest tightness or discomfort
  • Increased heart rate or weakened pulse
  • Pale or blue skin caused by a lack of oxygen intake

Some signs and symptoms of a punctured lung may not be immediately apparent due to adrenaline rushing through a person’s body after an accident.

Punctured lung treatment

It is incredibly important that a person seek immediate medical treatment after a car accident, particularly if a punctured lung is suspected. Anytime a person is experiencing pain in their chest area after an accident, it should be treated as a medical emergency. Possible treatments of punctured lungs include:

  • Inserting a needle into the chest cavity to release air pressure
  • Inserting a tube into the chest to relieve air pressure
  • Surgery to repair damaged lung tissue
  • Supplying oxygen while the lung injury heals

So long as a person receives prompt and adequate medical care for a punctured lung, these injuries usually heal within six to eight weeks. However, if a person does not receive medical care in a timely manner, a punctured lung can result in permanent disability or even death.

Call us today at (503) 226-6361 to speak with our Portland car accident attorneys.