Barrel chest is defined as a rounded, bulging chest that looks like the shape of a barrel. Barrel chest isn’t a disease itself but points towards a worrisome disease.
People suffering from emphysema develop a slight barrel chest in the later stages of the disease. It occurs because the lungs overinflated with air for longer period of time, so the rib cage stays partially expanded all the time. Barrel chest can make breathing harder for the patient. COPD patients with barrel chest often presents with shortness of breath. The barrel shape of the chest is more apparent in older adults who also have kyphosis Treating the underlying disease can result in reversal of shape of the chest.
Detailed medical history, including history of smoking and exposure to any lung irritants is important to rule out any other cause. Physical examination is performed by the doctor to check for wheezing or other signs of lung pathology.
Certain laboratory test can be ordered by your doctor:
· Spirometry. Tells about functioning of lungs
· Chest X-ray or CT scan.
· Blood tests. To check for oxygen levels and other signs of infection.