Skip to content

Asthma Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Chest Retractions

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.

  • Mild difficulty breathing may cause retraction in the belly, just below the rib cage (subcostal) and at the bottom of the breastbone (substernal).
  • 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 also present.
  • 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 present.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Current as of March 12, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

Start Now

Today on WebMD

Lung and bronchial tube graphic
5 common triggers.
group jogging in park
Should you avoid fitness activities?
 
asthma inhaler
Learn about your options.
man feeling faint
What’s the difference?
 
Los Angeles skyline in smog
Slideshow
man in a field with allergies
Slideshow
 
Woman holding inhaler
VIDEO
Slideshow Allergy Myths and Facts
Slideshow
 

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Man outdoors coughing
Article
Lung and bronchial tube graphic
Article
 
10 Worst Asthma Cities
Slideshow
runner
Article