Spontaneous pneumothorax can occur among young individuals with smoking habits. In this case study, the patient was informed to avoid high altitudes and to fly in non-pressurized aircraft. This indication is connected with the risk of developing severe breathing insufficiency, or hypoxia. Spontaneous pneumothorax is believed to happen because of the blister or bullae opening on the surface of the lungs. These processes can be triggered by changes in atmospheric pressure. At high altitudes, the concentration of oxygen is lowered, and the human respiratory system reacts to it with hyperventilation to reach the needed amount of oxygen in the blood.
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Hyperventilation is initiated by peripheral chemoreceptors that react to the lowered concentration of oxygen in the blood (Daş et al., 2021). However, the alveolar pressure is lower than the pressure in the atmosphere, and that usually makes the person inhale the air easily. On high altitudes, the barometric pressure decreases, and the difference in pressures decreases as well. That leads to a low oxygen inhalation, so-called hypobaric hypoxia, and consequent changes in hemodynamics.
Patient with one episode of spontaneous pneumothorax has a decreased capacity of ventilation, and a quick decompression to lower atmospheric pressure can cause severe breathing insufficiency and secondary spontaneous pneumothorax. Non-pressurized aircraft is similar to high attitudes as it has no protection from low atmospheric pressure and can cause similar deviations in the respiratory and cardiac systems of the human body. The indication is connected with the prevention of further disorders and complications with the patient’s lungs. On most occasions, height avoidance is recommended within two weeks after recovering from spontaneous pneumothorax. To prevent worsening of the condition, the patient should be examined before the planned hiking trip or scuba diving.
Daş, M., Alar, T., Delice, O., Gedik, İ. E., Bardakci, O., Akman, C., Ulaş, A. B., & Akdur, O. (2021). The effect of meteorological variables on spontaneous pneumothorax in two regions with different altitudes. International journal of biometeorology, 65(4), 503–511. Web.