Paradoxical breathing is the term for a sign of respiratory distress associated with damage to the structures involved in breathing.
Instead of moving out when taking a breath, the chest wall or the abdominal wall moves in. Often, the chest wall and the abdominal wall move in opposite directions with each breath.
To understand the significance of paradoxical breathing, it’s important to know why it’s a paradox in the first place.
Paradoxical breathing, often called paradoxical respiration, essentially looks like the opposite of what one would expect to see while breathing.
The physiology of breathing consists of two distinct parts: ventilation and respiration. Ventilation refers to air movement in and out of the lungs. Respiration refers to the exchange of gases that occurs between the lungs and the bloodstream.
Paradoxical respiration refers to changes in the mechanics of breathing, which is ventilation rather than respiration. Learn more about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of this condition.