Bruised Lung: causes, symptoms and treatments

Bruised Lung

Bruised Lung: overview

You have severe chest pains, and it hurts to breathe – or you cannot seem to catch your breath. You recently experienced a severe blow to your chest. Chances are that you may have bruised your lung or lungs.

A bruised lung is not something to ignore. Your body depends completely on your lungs to provide oxygen to your heart, muscles and all organs. If the delivery of that oxygen is interrupted or impeded, you could suffer a serious health issue because of the bruised lung.

What is a bruised lung?

Also known as a pulmonary contusion, it is usually caused by an impact on the chest or severe trauma. Subsequently, because of the impact, there will be damage to capillaries, and then blood and other fluids will accumulate in the lung tissue. The excess fluid leads to inadequate oxygen levels (hypoxia).

What causes a bruised lung?

Everyone’s body is different – what is a minor hit for one person can do lethal damage to another. You know your body best and know when it is hurt. Pay attention to the signs of injury and seek help. I could save your life.

Have you experienced any of the following?

  1.  Blunt trauma, like a car accident – although with the use of airbags, they have diminished somewhat. There was a sudden increase in the 1960s due to car crashes as speeds increased, and thus, the injury to drivers and passengers increased.
  2. Explosion or a shock wave – explosives used during World Wars I and II resulted in many pulmonary contusion cases.

Severe or excessive coughing. A bad cold, pneumonia, allergy, asthmatic attack or environmental/chemical inhalation may cause a severe coughing attack resulting in a bruised lung. Blood and sputum may come up as a result.

Diagnosis, and Symptoms and complications of a bruised lung

To determine the degree of injury with a bruised lung, a physical examination of the chest and radiography are used. Because the injury is internal, the severity of the injury is not immediately obvious. You have to tell the doctor how you feel and what aggravates the pain and discomfort – this will help them assess what has happened more efficiently.

Medical professionals will look for a number of typical signs and symptoms.

  • Obvious effects of the physical trauma on the skin where the lungs are located
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood or bloody sputum
  • Cyanosis (the body not getting enough oxygen).

The bruise usually heals on its own when properly cared for. Often si,mply giving the patient oxygen and forced bedrest (with regular) monitoring will allow them to heal quickly.

However, if the injury or condition is more severe, intensive care and hospitalization may be required. This is not a condition to tough out. Until you know to what degree your lungs have been damaged, listen to your doctor.

If the person’s breathing is severely impeded, mechanical ventilation may be necessary. This is, of course, for extreme or neglected cases.

Fluid replacement may be required to support proper blood volumes. If the volumes of fluid are not administered properly, too much fluid may cause oedema, and the patient will be worse off.

Interesting fact: Car accidents account for over 70% of all pulmonary contusions. Sports injuries, violent attacks and falls from elevated heights are also common causes of bruised lungs.

One of the problems with any internal injury is that the severity of it may not manifest in an obvious manner at the time of injury. The signs many are subtle. You may feel great and want to go home, but 48 hours later, you cannot breathe. You have to pay attention to your body.

  • A mild contusion may show no symptoms at all.
  • Due to the impairment of oxygen production, the skin or extremities may have a bluish tinge.
  • Painful breathing
  • Low energy
  • Rapid breathing and a rapid heart rate

The more severe condition may show more obvious signs.

• Breathing sounds are audible through a stethoscope

• An abnormal crackling sound in the chest

• Bronchorrhea (the production of watery sputum)

• Wheezing and coughing are other signs

• Coughing up blood or bloody sputum

• Hypotension (low blood pressure) is common

• The chest wall near the injured area will be tender to the touch.

Symptoms may take time to develop – this is true for around 50% of all cases.

Bruised Lung from Coughing

A less serious cause of a bruised lung, but painful just the same.

It usually takes only a few days for the damage to the lung from extreme coughing will heal or diminish. To take care of this, rest and try to minimize the coughing through a solution that works best for you. If the pain continues for more than 3 or 4 days, see your doctor as it may be something else.

Bruised Lung from a Fall

You may have as well tripped and hit your side on a stair or a very hard object. You felt OK just after it happened, but as time passed, it became more and more difficult to breathe. Any injury or accident that affects your breathing must be seen immediately. Your body relies on oxygen produced by your lungs – if they are not working as they should, other manifestations could affect your health and other bodily functions. Treatments for a bruised lung

Treatments for a bruised lung

Your injury is not like someone else injury. Everybody is unique, and therefore, everyone’s ability to heal is definitely unique.

• Low oxygen levels in arterial blood, often due to the bruising, may worsen gradually over 24-48 hours if untreated; this can result in serious health issues or even death within a few days.

The treatment options depend on the severity of the injury. Treatments are geared to ensure oxygen is produced to support all bodily functions and to reduce the pain associated with the condition/injury.

Medical Treatment

 Pain medication:

These are administered to relieve the pain associated with the injury and the bruising so the patient can breathe easier. Medication is delivered either by pill, intravenous (IV) or through a lower back epidural.


Forced oxygen is usually applied, especially when the patient is having difficulty breathing. Masks or nasal tubes are typically used for this purpose.


Any blood or fluid that is settling into the lungs or in any of the channels/airways may need to be regularly manually removed using suction tubes.

Chest tubes:

If the injury is severe and fluids get into the chest cavity (not only the lungs), a chest tube is inserted directly through the chest wall into the cavity so the fluids can be removed as they collect.


If the patient is not able to draw and expel enough air on their own, they may be required to have the assistance of a ventilator. This is a machine, which will assist the lungs to breathe regularly and to ensure oxygen is being produced. It will be a full face mask.

Mechanical ventilation may also be used.

This more intrusive method places a tube down the throat of the patient, directly to the lungs, to take over for the lung function rather than assist. This, as well, would be a full face mask.

Home remedies

Anything that relieves the intensity of the pain and any associated symptoms will be beneficial.

  • Lung exercises:

In order to open your air passages, a doctor may recommend a combination of deep breathing and controlled, regulated coughing. This will not only help to bring up sputum from your lungs but will speed up the healing process. An Incentive Spiro-meter, a device that assists with deeper breaths, may also be used.

  • Steam:

Leaning over Eucalyptus leaves in a bowl of hot water and breathing in may help. The leaves have a relaxing effect and promote healing. This is best for lung infections.

  • Avoid irritants:

Do not smoke, reduce alcohol intake and avoid dust in your home.

How long does it take for a bruised lung to heal?

With proper and proactive treatment for moderately bruised lungs, the recovery time is usually 3 to 5 days (as long as no infections occur).

ARDS (Acute respiratory distress syndrome) is the most commonly experienced complication associated with a bruised lung. It affects around 50% of all patients suffering from bruised or severely injured lungs. Around 80% of patients with a bruised lung will see permanent damage to 20% of that lung (or lungs).

Pneumonia is also a high risk for patients with a bruised lung. The blood trapped in alveolar spaces provides an opportunity for bacteria to grow and infect the patients’ lungs. Proper care is the key to reducing the risk of pneumonia or pleurisy (liquid buildup in the lungs).

Once you have been successfully treated and released from care, it is very important to follow the instructions provided to you by the doctor and to attend all follow-up appointments so they can listen to your lungs and determine there are no fluids and that you are breathing healthily.

Failure to do so may affect your overall quality of life, as a lack of oxygen will affect other organs and bodily functions.