Auto Injuries: Pulmonary Damage Following An Auto Accident

August 03, 2012

Common pulmonary damage or distress caused by a car crash.

Often times, when a person is involved in some sort of serious accident or injury, they will experience certain feelings or symptoms that usually can be attributed to being frightened or shocked from the accident itself. Some of these symptoms often include shaking, unresponsiveness and even loss of breath. Luckily, many of these feelings will begin to fade as the reality and seriousness of the event sinks in, but it can still be a scary experience for anyone.

However, while many people will find that it is common to have the air knocked out of them, or become short of breath following a serious car crash, there are also several serious pulmonary injuries that could be responsible for trouble breathing following an automobile accident.

When you are involved in a car crash, there are many different ways in which a lung injury could occur―a harmful blow to your ribcage or lungs, the pressure of the accident itself or even the force from the seatbelt that is protecting you. In some cases, the cause of the lung injury may be apparent right away to doctors. However, other injuries may require a physical exam, listening to the lungs and heart, and checking skin and lip color.

To give you a better idea of what type of pulmonary injuries typically occur following an auto accident, we have put together some information on the two most common types of injuries―a pierced lung and a collapsed lung. Anyone who has been involved in a car accident and has experienced direct trauma to their chest should be closely examined to ensure they are free from these two serious pulmonary problems.

Punctured Lung

A traumatic punctured lung, or pneumothorax, injury occurs due to direct trauma to the chest, like a broken rib or a penetrating injury from an auto accident. Such penetrating injuries typically damage the thin lining around the lungs and the inside of the chest walls, known as the pleura. When the muscles of the chest and the diaphragm contract, they expand the chest, which causes the lungs to inflate. When you exhale, the muscles relax and the lungs spring back. However, if the air escapes from the lung, such as when you have a punctured lung, the lung can collapse inside of the chest.

Collapsed Lung

An untreated punctured lung or blocked airway can often lead to a collapsed lung (atelectasis). Symptoms of a collapsed lung are often very similar to those of a punctured lung and include sharp pain, shock, shallow or rapid breathing and cyanosis (your body begins to turn blue). However, unlike a punctured lung injury, the air does not escape into the chest when your lung collapses. Instead, the air sacs in the lung do not adequately expand when taking a breath.

In many cases, minor lung injuries are not life threatening and the rest of the lung can make up for the collapsed area, bringing in enough oxygen for the body to function. However, more serious injuries may require the removal of excess air through a syringe, needle or suction tube.

At Sall Myers Medical Associates, board certified pulmonary care specialists are available as needed to handle any pulmonary damage or injury you may have. Click here if you would like to read more about our staff of board certified pulmonologists. If you are in the New Jersey area and need pulmonary treatment from your personal injury accident, please call us at 866-609-4448 or fill out the quick contact form for FREE consultation.


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