20-year-old suffers from emphysema during masturbation

A 20-year-old man ended up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after suffering from pulmonary emphysema during masturbation. The rare case was reported in the journal Radiology Case Reports by doctors at the Cantonal Hospital in Switzerland.

The patient told doctors that he was lying in bed masturbating when he felt the first symptoms: sudden chest pain and severe shortness of breath.

When examining the patient and pressing their fingers on his neck and chest, the doctors noticed noises.

A chest x-ray showed subcutaneous emphysema – presence of air in the mediastinum, a space in the chest between the lungs – and a CT scan of the region revealed the diagnosis of spontaneous pneumomediastinum.


Credit: Reproduction/ScienceDirect.comX-ray shows air trapped in the space between the chest and the lung alveoli

The boy had to spend one night in the ICU and three days in the hospital undergoing treatment before being discharged. According to doctors, the patient had a history of asthma, but did not smoke.

Spontaneous pneumomediastinum (PMS)

Spontaneous pneumomediastinum, also called Hamman Syndrome, is a condition where air leaks from the lung and becomes lodged in the rib cage. It is a rare condition and is usually triggered suddenly by intense exertion, coughing or vomiting.


Credit: Charday Penn/istockRare condition can be caused by intense exertion, such as coughing

According to the doctors who treated the boy, there are only a few reports of PMS related to sexual activity and they added: “We did not find any case associated with autoeroticism, which makes our case unusual”.

Symptoms include chest and neck pain, shortness of breath, lung noises and constant coughing. Treatment is usually with analgesics for pain relief.

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