Chest retractions are a sucking in of the skin in between or around
the bones of the chest when inhaling. Retractions may occur in several areas of
the chest and are a sign of increased use of the chest muscles for breathing.
This usually is a sign of difficulty breathing.
As breathing becomes more difficult, areas of the chest where
retractions can be seen increase.
Lung function tests are a way to check how well your lungs are working. Doctors use lung function tests to diagnose asthma and to monitor its progression. Monitoring asthma with lung function tests is helpful because you may not always be able to tell -- just from your symptoms -- whether or not your asthma is under control.
In most cases, you have lung function tests in an exam room that contains special devices to measure lung function. A specially trained respiratory therapist or technician...
Mild difficulty breathing may cause retraction in
the belly, just below the rib cage (subcostal) and at the bottom of the
Moderate difficulty breathing may cause
retraction in the same areas of the chest and belly as mild difficulty
breathing, but now retraction between the ribs (intercostal retractions) is
Severe difficulty breathing may cause retraction in
the same of the areas of the chest and belly as mild and moderate difficulty
breathing, but now retraction in the neck, just above the collarbone
(supraclavicular) or just above the breastbone (suprasternal), is also
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
David Messenger, MD
January 10, 2012
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
January 10, 2012
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