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Pneumomediastinum

By

Richard W. Light

, MD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Last full review/revision Jan 2021| Content last modified Jan 2021
Click here for the Professional Version

Pneumomediastinum is air in the cavity in the central part of the chest (mediastinum).

  • The small air sacs of the lungs (alveoli) become stretched and torn

  • The esophagus rips or tears

  • The intestine tears, causing air to leak into the chest cavity

Most often, people have chest pain below the breastbone. The pain may be severe.

When doctors do a physical examination, they may hear a crunching or crackling noise when they listen to the chest through a stethoscope. A chest x-ray is done to confirm the diagnosis.

Usually, treatment is not necessary. However, the problem that caused pneumomediastinum may require treatment.

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Air Pollution-Related Illness
Illnesses linked to air pollution are categorized as environmental lung diseases. Exposure to air pollution for an extended period may increase respiratory infections and symptoms of respiratory disorders, such as coughing. In which of the following groups is long-term exposure to air pollution especially likely to increase respiratory infections and symptoms of respiratory disorders?
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