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Human Respiratory System

  • The respiratory system is one of the systems of the body. It performs the function of respiration in the body.
  • Respiration is divided into two:
    • External respiration (Breathing)
    • Internal respiration (Cellular respiration)
  • Respiration is the process by which oxygen is used to break down food substances to release energy.
  • The food broken down in the process releases energy for the body to build new cells to protect against diseases.
  • Exercise effects breathing as observations have shown that during exercising, there is an increase in pulse rate which in turn increases breathing.
Parts of the Human Respiratory System

The Human Respiratory System (Photo Credit OpenTextBC.ca)

  • The nostrils are the openings of the nose through which air enters the body.
  • The nostrils lead into the pharynx.
  • The pharynx leads into the larynx.
  • The larynx leads into the trachea (wind pipe).
  • The trachea branches into two bronchi.
  • The trachea and bronchi appear like rings of soft bones. This makes them strong for their functions.
  • Each bronchus leads into the lungs.
  • The lungs are two identical organs located in the chest cavity, on both sides of the heart.
  • Inside the lungs, the bronchi branch into tiny tubes called bronchioles.
  • The bronchioles branch again into many air sacs called alveoli (singular: alveolus).
  • The alveoli communicate with the external atmosphere in a continuous system of tubes which follow the reverse order to remove carbon IV oxide and water as waste products form the body.
Functions of the Respiratory System
  • The main functions of the respiratory system are breathing and cellular respiration.
  • Breathing is the taking in of oxygen and the release of carbon IV oxide. Breathing takes place in the lungs.
  • Cellular respiration is the process in which oxygen is used to break down food substances in the body cells to release energy, with carbon IV oxide and water as waste products.
Breathing Problems
  • Health problems make breathing difficult for some people.
  • The health conditions may have hereditary or environmental causes which include:
    • Pneumonia – This is a disease of the lungs, in which the air sacs of the lungs are closed up with mucus making gaseous exchange difficult. It is caused by bacteria present in a cold, wet, and unhealthy environment.
    • Tuberculosis – This is caused by bacteria. Infected persons experience prolonged cough and pains.
    • Asthma – This is a disease of the bronchi, in which the infected person experiences shortness of breath or temporary breathlessness, It is caused by a dirty environment.
    • Bronchitis – This is a cough arising from difficulties in breathing. It is also a disease of the lungs.