Paradoxical breathing, in which the chest contracts during inspiration instead of expanding, can be a symptom of serious physiological harm.

Paradoxical breathing…causes the chest to contract during inhaling and to expand during exhaling, the opposite of how it should move. The most common causes of paradoxical breathing include:

  • Chest trauma, including injuries from a fall, a sports injury, or a car accident
  • Neurological problems that can paralyze the diaphragm
  • Electrolyte imbalances caused by severe malnutrition, vomiting, diarrhea, and some metabolic disorders
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Muscle dysfunction (in the diaphragm)
  • Upper airway blockage
  • Sleep apnea