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What Are Retractions?


Say: rih-TRAK-shunz

Retractions are when the areas below the ribs, between the ribs, and in the neck sink in each time someone inhales (breathes in). They're a sign that the person is working hard to breathe. Normally, when you take a breath, your diaphragm and the muscles around your ribs create a vacuum that pulls air into your lungs (kind of like sucking liquid through a straw). But if someone has trouble breathing, extra muscles kick into action. The use of these muscles results in retractions, which can be seen as the person tries to inhale.

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