What is lung contusion?

Lung Contusion
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Pulmonary contusion: Overview

Pulmonary contusion is another name for a bruised lung. A blow to your chest, such as from hitting a car steering wheel or air bag, can bruise your lung.

If the injury isn't too bad, you may feel some soreness in your chest and then start to feel better in a few days. If the injury is more serious, you may have a lot of pain from damaged muscles, cartilage, or ribs in your chest. You may even have coughed up blood after the injury.

Your doctor may advise you to cough and take deep breaths, even though your chest hurts. Breathing deeply and coughing can help keep the air passages in your lungs open and free of mucus.

A bruised lung can take one or more weeks to heal, depending on how badly your lungs were injured.

How can you care for a pulmonary contusion?

  • Learn how to do controlled coughing to clear mucus from your lungs. Your doctor or nurse can teach you how to do this.
  • If the doctor gave you an incentive spirometer, use it as instructed. An incentive spirometer is a handheld device that helps you take deep breaths and exercise your lungs.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.

Lung contusion: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have severe trouble breathing.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse trouble breathing.
  • You have new or worse pain when breathing.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You have a fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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