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    Anatomy and Physiology: The Relationships of the Respiratory System

    The respiratory system does more than simply move oxygen into and out of your lungs. Learn the body's relationship with the respiratory system here!

    Anatomy and Physiology: The Relationships of the Respiratory System

    Posted on 11/16/12 by Courtney Smith

    Place your hand over your chest, take a deep breath, and then let it out.

    Of course you already know that your lungs fill with air when you breathe, but did you know that your respiratory system does more than simply move oxygen into and out of your lungs? The structures of the respiratory system interact with structures of the skeletal, circulatory, and muscular systems to help you smell, speak, and move oxygen into your bloodstream and waste out of it.

    Image from Human Anatomy Atlas.

    We're going to take a look at the relationships between these systems and how they work to keep you breathing 24/7/365.

    The Lungs of the Respiratory System

    The lungs are asymmetrical, conical in shape, and have a spongy texture. If you look in the image below, you'll see a treelike structure in each lung. This structure is the respiratory tree; bronchi—air pathways in the lungs—branch into smaller and smaller bronchioles, each ending in millions of air sacs known as alveoli, where gas exchange occurs. Gas exchange is the conversion of oxygen (what you inhale) into carbon dioxide (what you exhale).

    Image from Human Anatomy Atlas.

    Did you know the surface area of one lung is 750 sq. feet? That is the size of a singles tennis court!

    Air flows from the trachea into the bronchi, and from there into the bronchioles of the lungs. The image on the right shows the lungs from a posterior view. The shallow angle of the right primary bronchus is important, because when food accidentally moves down the trachea instead of the esophagus, it’s much more likely to end up in the right lung.

    Respiratory System and the Skeleton

    The skeletal system provides structure to soft tissue in the upper respiratory tract. The perpendicular plate of the ethmoid (the long section, shown in blue) separates the nasal cavity into sides. The perpendicular plate is one of the structures that help form the nasal septum.

    Image from Human Anatomy Atlas.

    Respiratory System and the Laryngeal Skeleton

    Did you know that you're able to produce sounds because of the air you breathe? It's true! In the laryngeal skeleton (a structure comprised of cartilage in the throat area) are the true vocal folds, or vocal cords, which allow you to speak. When air passes over the folds, they vibrate, and it is these vibrations that others (and yourself!) hear as sound.

    Image from Human Anatomy Atlas.

    Here's a cool little factoid: The sinuses in the skull, the thickness of the vocal folds, and the resonance area of the throat give each person’s voice its own character. While people have similar body structures, no two people are completely alike, which also is true for distinct voices.

    Respiratory System and the Nerves

    Ever wonder how you're able to smell something yummy and recognize it? The respiratory and nervous systems work together to identify odors in your environment. The cribiform plate of the ethmoid bone supports the olfactory bulb and the foramina in the ethmoid give passage to branches of the olfactory nerves.

    Image from Human Anatomy Atlas.

    Respiratory System and the Circulatory System

    Image from Human Anatomy Atlas.

    I know I've mentioned the role that blood plays in your body at some point. To recap, blood is the fuel that keeps you going! Oxygenated blood is brought to organs and tissues via the arteries, while veins bring deoxygenated blood back to the heart to be replenished. The point is, without the respiratory system your blood would be useless.

    The circulatory and respiratory systems work together to circulate blood and oxygen throughout the body. Air moves in and out of the lungs through the trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles. Blood moves in and out of the lungs through the pulmonary arteries and veins that connect to the heart.

    Source : www.visiblebody.com

    The respiratory system review (article)

    Key terms

    Term Meaning

    Respiratory system The body system responsible for gas exchange between the body and the external environment

    Pharynx (throat) Tube connected the nose/mouth to the esophagus

    Larynx (voice box) Tube forming a passage between the pharynx and trachea

    Trachea Tube connecting the larynx to the bronchi of the lungs

    Bronchi Branches of tissue stemming from the trachea

    Bronchiole Airway that extends from the bronchus

    Alveoli Structures of the lung where gas exchange occurs

    Diaphragm Thoracic muscle that lays beneath the lungs and aids in inhalation/exhalation

    The respiratory system

    The process of physiological respiration includes two major parts: external respiration and internal respiration. External respiration, also known as breathing, involves both bringing air into the lungs (inhalation) and releasing air to the atmosphere (exhalation). During internal respiration, oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged between the cells and blood vessels.

    Respiration begins at the nose or mouth, where oxygenated air is brought in before moving down the pharynx, larynx, and the trachea. The trachea branches into two bronchi, each leading into a lung. Each bronchus divides into smaller bronchi, and again into even smaller tubes called bronchioles. At the end of the bronchioles are air sacs called alveoli, and this is where gas exchange occurs.

    Diagram labeling the major structures of the respiratory system

    Image credit: Arteries and veins of the body by OpenStax, CC BY 4.0

    An important structure of respiration is the diaphragm. When the diaphragm contracts, it flattens and the lungs expand, drawing air into the lungs. When it relaxes, air flows out, allowing the lungs to deflate.

    Common mistakes and misconceptions

    Physiological respiration and cellular respiration are not the same. People sometimes use the word "respiration" to refer to the process of cellular respiration, which is a cellular process in which carbohydrates are converted into energy. The two are related processes, but they are not the same.We do not breathe in only oxygen or breathe out only carbon dioxide. Often the terms "oxygen" and "air" are used interchangeably. It is true that the air we breathe in has more oxygen than the air we breathe out, and the air we breathe out has more carbon dioxide than the air that we breathe in. However, oxygen is just one of the gases found in the air we breathe. (In fact, the air has more nitrogen than oxygen!)The respiratory system does not work alone in transporting oxygen through the body. The respiratory system works directly with the circulatory system to provide oxygen to the body. Oxygen taken in from the respiratory system moves into blood vessels that then circulate oxygen-rich blood to tissues and cells.

    Source : www.khanacademy.org

    The Respiratory & Circulatory System in the Human Body

    The circulatory and respiratory system interactions form the basis for supporting life in higher animals. The heart, arteries, veins, lungs and alveoli have to work together to supply the body with oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide, the human respiratory system's form of waste.

    Home ⋅ Science ⋅ Biology ⋅ Human Body

    The Respiratory & Circulatory System in the Human Body

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    RELATED

    How Does Blood Get Oxygen?

    Updated July 20, 2018

    By Bert Markgraf

    The human respiratory and circulatory systems work together to supply the body with oxygen and get rid of waste carbon dioxide. While the former deals with air and the latter with blood, they work together seamlessly by coordinating the functions of the many parts of each system. Other systems in the body, such as the digestive system and the nervous system, are important too, but the circulatory and respiratory systems have to work continuously, usually without pausing even for a few minutes.

    TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

    The circulatory and respiratory systems absorb oxygen from the air and transfer it to all parts of the body while absorbing carbon dioxide from the body and releasing it into the air. When a person inhales, the lungs expand and fill with fresh air. The respiratory system interacts with the circulatory system to transfer oxygen from fresh air to red blood cells in the lung arteries while also releasing carbon dioxide from the blood into the air in the lungs. When a person exhales, this used air leaves the body. The heart pumps the blood with the oxygenated red blood cells from the lungs via the arteries throughout the body where the oxygen is released into the cells and carbon dioxide is absorbed. The heart pumps the used blood back through the veins to the lungs, and the cycle repeats itself.

    Major Organs Make the Circulatory and Respiratory Systems Work

    The major organ of the circulatory system is the heart, which pumps the blood into the lungs and throughout the body. The arteries take the blood from the heart out to the different organs. The final distribution to individual cells is carried out via small blood vessels called capillaries. From the cells, the blood returns to the heart via veins, and from the heart, the blood is pumped back to the lungs.

    The major organs of the respiratory system are the lungs. When the lungs expand, the body inhales fresh air, which is passed down from the mouth or nose through the trachea into the bronchial tubes of the lungs and into the tiny alveoli air sacs. There, the oxygen from the air is absorbed by the red blood cells of the circulatory system arteries while the carbon dioxide in the blood is released into the air in the air sacs. When the lung contracts, the body exhales the used air and takes a new breath.

    Respiratory System Interactions With the Circulatory System

    The circulatory or cardiovascular system's ability to deliver oxygen throughout the body depends on proper functioning of the respiratory system. The interactions between the cardiovascular and respiratory systems are best demonstrated by following the path of a red blood cell starting in the heart and traveling through the lungs.

    A red blood cell that has just returned from delivering oxygen and that has brought back carbon dioxide would be in the right upper chamber of the heart or in the right atrium. When the atrium contracts, the cell is pumped into the right lower chamber of the heart, or the right ventricle. When that ventricle contracts, the red blood cell is pumped out of the heart through the pulmonary artery to the lungs.

    In the lungs, the red blood cell enters tiny blood vessels that come into close contact with the walls of the alveoli air sacs of the lungs. The carbon dioxide in the red blood cell passes through the walls into the alveoli while the oxygen in the alveoli air passes into the red blood cell. The red blood cell then returns to the heart via the pulmonary vein.

    From the pulmonary vein, the red blood cell enters the left atrium of the heart and then the left ventricle. The part of the heart muscle powering the left ventricle is very strong because it has to push the blood out to the whole body. The red blood cell is pumped out of the left ventricle via the aorta artery and eventually reaches the capillaries leading to the individual cells. There the cells absorb the oxygen from the red blood cell and pass on their waste carbon dioxide. The red blood cell returns to the right atrium of the heart via the veins to complete the cycle.

    These circulatory and respiratory system interactions are ones that humans and higher animals such as mammals and birds share and that represent one of the basic functions of their bodies. Only when these two systems work and interact properly can the human or animal carry out other functions such as looking for food or reproducing.

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