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    Introduction to the Respiratory System

    Introduction to the Respiratory System

    When the respiratory system is mentioned, people generally think of breathing, but breathing is only one of the activities of the respiratory system. The body cells need a continuous supply of oxygen for the metabolic processes that are necessary to maintain life. The respiratory system works with the circulatory system to provide this oxygen and to remove the waste products of metabolism. It also helps to regulate pH of the blood.

    Respiration is the sequence of events that results in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and the body cells. Every 3 to 5 seconds, nerve impulses stimulate the breathing process, or ventilation, which moves air through a series of passages into and out of the lungs. After this, there is an exchange of gases between the lungs and the blood. This is called external respiration. The blood transports the gases to and from the tissue cells. The exchange of gases between the blood and tissue cells is internal respiration. Finally, the cells utilize the oxygen for their specific activities: this is called cellular metabolism, or cellular respiration. Together, these activities constitute respiration.

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    Source : training.seer.cancer.gov

    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

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