Pectus excavatum - symptoms and causes
Pectus excavatum (funnel chest) is a congenital defect that causes the chest wall to appear sunken. It often results in lack of confidence and shortness of breath.
In most people pectus excavatum (funnel chest) presents before the age of one, but in some cases it does not become apparent until the onset of puberty. It is seen four times more frequently in boys than in girls.
What causes pectus excavatum (funnel chest)?
The defect is caused by abnormal development before birth of the cartilage that joins the ribs and the breastbone. The sternum is thereby pressed in towards the spine, and a depression develops at the front of the rib cage.
Pectus excavatum usually worsens with age. Severe cases of the condition can impair heart and lung function. Many people with pectus excavatum have self-image issues about the way they look.
Researchers are currently unsure what actually causes of pectus excavatum but hypothesize genetic defect. Approximately 37% of individuals with pectus excavatum have a first degree family member with the condition
Symptoms of pectus excavatum (funnel chest)
Many people complain of quickly becoming short of breath during physical activity. The reason for this is that the right-hand side of the heart becomes compressed, and thus does not have enough space to expand when doing work. In some cases funnel chest can cause difficulty eating as a result of compression of the oesophagus.
It is the cosmetic effects, however, that are often the worst ones, and they can cause the young person to refrain from various social and sporting activities.
Read about how pectus excavatum is treated?
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