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A barrel chest refers to a naturally large ribcage, large lung capacity, a round torso, a sunken abdomen, and great upper body strength. The term refers to men with chests shaped like a barrel.

Barrel chests can occur in adults and children. The condition is most often observed in men.

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Men with barrel chests typically have a medical condition that causes distention of the upper torso and ribcage.

Causes of Barrel Chest

A barrel chest can indicate an underlying medical problem, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, or smoker's cough.

Lung disorders cause the lungs to over-inflate with air as they work harder. This causes the ribcage to expand when a man exhales.

When the rib cage remains expanded it can cause breathing problems and shortness of breath because air is trapped in the lungs and can't be fully expelled.

A barrel chest is a cause for concern if it is due to a chronic lung condition.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing (dry or productive)
  • Gasping
  • Shortness of breath
  • Air hunger
  • Inability to take a deep breath
  • Sore chest/ribs
  • Back pain
  • Low oxygen levels
  • High C02 levels
  • Difficulty walking or exercising
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Posture changes


There is no specific treatment for barrel chest. Doctors treat the underlying medical condition that causes it. In some cases, treating the underlying medical condition will improve the appearance of a barrel chest.

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Clubbing of the fingers means the ends of the fingers are bulging, soft and sometimes reddened with wide, distorted fingernails that slope downward and are shaped like small spoons.

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If you notice clubbing of the fingers, you should contact your doctor or a health provider because it could be a sign of a serious health problem.

There are two types of clubbed fingers: primary (hereditary), which means a lifelong clubbed appearance of the fingers that is not associated with any health problems.

The other type is called secondary clubbing, which causes a gradual change in the appearance of your fingers and toes over a short period of time.

What causes secondary clubbing?

Secondary clubbing is always a sign of a serious health problem and you should contact a doctor or healthcare provider.

Secondary clubbing of the fingers is usually a sign of a chronic respiratory/lung disease or heart disease.

This sign is also associated with a number of medical conditions that can be harmful that involve the thyroid or digestive system.

The condition occurs because of decreased oxygen levels which causes changes in the tiny blood vessels in the body in response to low oxygen and shows up significantly in the fingers.

The bulging in fingertips is associated with inflammation and the growth of tiny blood vessels and soft tissue in the fingers.

Risk factors associated with clubbing include:

  • Lung cancer
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Lung abscess
  • Tuberculosis
  • Pulmonary lymphoma
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF)
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Infective endocarditis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Graves' disease
  • Overactive thyroid gland

    Diagnosis to Assess Underlying Conditions

    Primary clubbing of the fingers is harmless. Secondary clubbing of the fingers will require diagnostic tests.

    The tests include:

    1. Physical examination

    2. A pulse oximeter (pulse ox) to measure the oxygen levels in your blood

    3. Pulmonary function tests to measure your lung capacity

    4. Arterial blood gas, a blood test to measure your 02 level

    5. Chest X-ray or chest computerized tomography (CT)

    6. Electrocardiogram (EKG) or echocardiogram to assess your heart function

    7. Blood tests, including complete blood count (CBC), electrolytes, liver function test, and thyroid test

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    More Info On the Web

    Clubbing of Fingers | very well health

    Clubbing of the Fingers or Toes - Healthline

    Clubbing of fingers - Mayo Clinic


    Any medical information published on this blog is for your general information only and is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider. and its affiliates cannot be held liable for any damages incurred by following information found on this blog.