Katherine Rivera-Spoljaric, MD

Katherine Rivera-Spoljaric, MD, a Washington University pediatric pulmonologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, talks about the signs related to collapsed lungs, how they can happen and what to do if you suspect your child’s lungs have deflated.

Think of a lung like a balloon. It can be deflated or partially deflated. A collapsed lung is usually related to trauma. Sometimes, it can be related to other intrinsic chronic lung diseases that can cause an air leak.

A collapsed lung causes immediate distress. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pains
  • Blue lips
  • Pale complexion

You can have a partial collapse of the lung. This is when a section of the lung collapses. The lung is divided into lobes, and partial collapses can be caused by a blockage of a section of a lobe.

Treatment for a collapsed lung depends on the type of collapse. You should seek medical help, and your doctor will do scans and run tests. If you have concerns, call your pediatrician.

In case of a medical emergency with a child, determine where the nearest accredited, Level I pediatric trauma center is located. St. Louis Children’s Hospital has six pediatric ER locations across the St. Louis and southern Illinois region. These include St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital at Memorial Hospital Belleville, Children’s Hospital at Memorial Hospital Shiloh, Children’s Hospital at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Children’s Hospital at Northwest HealthCare and Children’s Hospital at Progress West Hospital.


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