Respiratory System


When the body breathes in, the air is drawn into the respiratory system, where it takes a journey throughout the body and then leaves once again in the form of altered gases as waste in the same manner it entered. Dividing the respiratory system into two basic components, upper and lower, it is organized and well understood. The respiratory system is responsible for the exchange of gases, the production of sound, and the assistance of abdominal compression. The most, obvious, the exchange of gases, is its primary function which sustains life.


Respiration as a gaseous exchange refers to the functions, separate yet interdependent. Ventilation is the action of the body’s natural response to breathe in and exhale. The exchange of gases occurs initially between the air and the lungs, then the lungs and the blood cells within the lungs, and finally between the blood cells and the body’s tissue. Oxygen utilization occurs when the body’s tissues creates energy from the oxygenated cells and then return to the cells carbon dioxide which is considered a waste for those cells. This process is known as the process of respiration.

External respiration occurs when the gases are exchanged, oxygen for carbon dioxide with a few other lesser vital gases mixed in there, and then released from the body with the action of exhaling. Internal respiration occurs when the gases are exchanged between the blood cells and the body’s tissues.

On average, an adult body at rest breathes approximately fifteen times per minute and exchanges six liters of air in this time frame, resulting in eight thousand liters exchanged in a twenty four hours duration. An adult body under physical duress increases the need for gaseous exchange by either fifteen or twenty times the resting rate. This results in approximately one hundred liters of air passing through the lungs every minute.

The average adult body will lose consciousness after four, perhaps five, minutes. Brain damage is likely after seven minutes of oxygen deprivation and death usually occurs within eleven minutes.

The respiratory system is a complex and vital part of the human body. With even a laps in the appropriate functions, life and death become eminent. The respiratory system must be fully operation to sustain life or life with quality. To be considered functional, the respiratory system must possess six basic required functions.

The first required function includes the location of the gaseous exchange, as it must occur deep within the lungs so that the air has had a chance to be warmed, moistened, and cleansed on its journey to be exchanged for waste gases. Air born particles must be removed during the oxygen’s journey deep into the lungs.


Respiratory System
Image: Respiratory System

Secondly, the membrane lining of the lungs must be moist, as carbon dioxide and oxygen can undergo the process of gaseous exchange only in water-like material. This process is called diffusion and can not happen in a dry lung.

The respiratory system must have an extensive network of capillaries to allow the exchange of oxygen within the body’s tissues. An incompetent network of capillaries will result in some of the body’s tissue being denied life sustaining oxygen.

The respiratory system relies on a competent and efficient ventilation mechanism in order for there to be ample replenishment of the necessary oxygen. The body’s tissue can not survive off of a minimal amount of oxygenation.

The respiratory system must be able to function automatically and not require constant conscious monitoring. Monitoring and feedback must all happen automatically throughout the body in order for the respiratory system to respond appropriately. The system also requires a conscious over ride in order to intentionally create a variance in airflow if desired or needed.

By meeting these basic necessities, the respiratory system is designed with very intricate but purposeful properties, which allow it to take on a variety of responsibilities. The metabolic process and the sustaining of life relies entirely on the functions of these basic principles.


The respiratory system is responsible for providing the blood stream with life sustaining oxygen while removing toxic waste gases, enables the production of sound by passing over the vocal cords which in turn cause vibration, and is partially responsible for the compression of the abdominal muscles which assist in urination, defecation, and child birth as well as assists in laughter and other basic bodily functions surrounding the abdomen. The abdominal muscles rely on the respiratory system for functions which require significant exertion, as these muscles become more effective with a rush of extra oxygen, hence the natural desire to take a deep breath when pushing the abdominal muscles or even lifting a heavy object. In numerous ways, the back muscles benefit similarly from a rush of fresh oxygen.

Without the respiratory functions as they are designed, protective reflexes that require a lapse in breath such as coughing, sneezing, or hiccupping could not effectively occur. These reflexes enable the body to reject foreign substances and keep them from entering the body via the respiratory system.

The structure, design, and passages involving the respiratory system are quite extensive and include the nasal cavity, the larynx, the trachea, the pharynx, the bronchi, the bronchioles, and the pulmonary alveoli within the lungs. The upper respiratory system is segregated by the nasal passages, the pharynx, and the associated and necessary related structures while the lower respiratory system is segregated by the larynx, the trachea, the bronchiole system, the pulmonary alveoli, and the lungs. To keep the segregation and division of the respiratory system simple, it is typically divided by the generalization of conduction and respiration. A percentage of the respiratory system is divided up by its ability to relate to breathing in while the other half is associated with the body’s need for transportation of elements. These divisions are known as the respiratory division and the conduction division, respectively.


The conduction division is created by any and all relative structures or cavities that “conduct” the gases in either form to and from the pulmonary alveoli while the respiratory division is defined by the pulmonary alveoli as well as any and all cavities or relative structures that assist with the exchange of gases in either form between the air and the blood.

The respiratory system, as complex and intricate as it is, is also quite viable and strong. The system is designed to compliment and function cooperatively with other systems to create and sustain life, energy, and endurance in nearly any reasonable situation.
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human anatomy Organs included in Respiratory System

AlveoliBronchial treeLarynx
LungsNoseParanasal sinuses