…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
It turns out I occasionally suffer from Pneumothorax.
I was listing to the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio Two today and there was a segment about the benefits/perils of being tall/short. Really I’m neither tall nor short – I just did a search online for what is considered an average height and I scrape in at the average (I actually thought I was a little short!) Anyhow, the doctor on the show was talking about various medical conditions which are either more common in taller people or more common in shorter people, and Pneumothorax was mentioned as something more common among taller people. The symptoms sounded familiar so I looked it up.
The common symptom is a sudden sharp chest pain followed by pains when you breathe in. You may become breathless. In most cases, the pneumothorax clears without needing treatment.
I’ve had this since occasionally since I was a teenager, although some pains can be in my upper back, and I had put it all down to stress pains – thinking about it now I realise I have two lots of pains, some stress, and some of this more sudden pneumothorax.
A pneumothorax is air that is trapped next to a lung. Most cases occur ‘out of the blue’ in healthy young men … Most occur in healthy young adults who do not have any lung disease. It is more common in tall thin people…
About 2 in 10,000 young adults in the UK develop a spontaneous pneumothorax each year. Men are affected about four times more often than women. It is rare in people over the age of 40. It is also much more common in smokers compared with non-smokers. Cigarette smoke seems to make the wall of any bleb even weaker and more likely to tear.
I grew up with parents smoking all of the time so I’m sure this has played a part. I had asthma too and still suffer some years when I get hayfever.
About 3 in 10 people who have a primary spontaneous pneumothorax have one or more recurrences at some time in the future. If a recurrence does occur it is usually on the same side and usually occurs within three years of the first one.