Intercostal Retractions - A Sign of Asthma
Asthma is a swelling of the airways within the lungs. When these airways become inflamed, the amount of air passing through them is reduced and a number of serious complications can result. Numerous symptoms can help point towards a diagnosis of asthma, some of them well-known and others not quite as recognizable. Intercostal retractions are one example of an asthma symptom that is very common among those dealing with the illness, but one that many people may not realize exists. If your body shows signs of intercostal retractions then there's a very good chance that you may be suffering from asthma and need to seek medical evaluation as soon as possible.
The intercostal muscles are those that are located between the ribs, and that is where this symptom of asthma will occur. Basically, intercostal retractions are an indention of the skin around the ribs when a person inhales. The soft spots between each of your ribs will collapse inwards towards your lungs slightly, in other words. When this occurs it is an obvious sign of airway obstruction, and since asthma is essentially an inflammation-triggered airway obstruction, it makes sense that intercostal retractions would be one of the chief symptoms that an asthma sufferer would have.
The scientific cause of intercostal retractions is rooted in pressure. The lungs are pressurized with air, and the intercostal muscles are soft and spongy. But when the proper amount of air can't reach the lungs, the pressure within them becomes reduced. Without that pressure to support them, every breath inward will cause the intercostal muscles to pull in between the ribs. The severity of the retractions will vary greatly, mainly depending upon age and upon the severity of the asthma case. And while other issues like bronchitis or trauma could cause them to occur, in most cases regular intercostal retractions is a very clear indicator that asthma could be an issue.
If you're suffering from other asthma symptoms or none but notice that intercostal retractions are occurring, you need to see a doctor. It's unlikely that this symptom will present itself without any other symptoms to go along with it, so if you're experiencing others than you can check for intercostal retractions to further confirm suspected asthma. Only a physician can make a concrete diagnosis, however, so don't hesitate to visit one as soon as you notice an issue. Controlling asthma through medications is possible but you need to ensure that you are seen as soon as you can be so that you can start taking the steps needed to get your condition under control.