Respiratory System Essay

The respiratory system helps with breathing, inhaling and exhaling. The respiratory systems main function is to give oxygen to the body’s cells and get rid of the carbon dioxide the cells produce.

Breathing would be impossible without the respiratory system, which includes the nose, throat, voice box, windpipe, and lungs. In this essay I plan on explaining how the respiratory system functions as well as its parts. The exchange of two gases called oxygen and carbon dioxide, this process is called respiration. As humans we need oxygen to survive and generate carbon dioxide.Since too much carbon dioxide is bad for our body we trade the carbon dioxide for air every time we take a breath. When we as humans breathe we are getting oxygen from our environment, without oxygen we would be unable to live. When one breathes in air that air fills the lungs and gets close enough to the blood to make an important trade. The trade I speak of is the blood takes in the oxygen and releases the carbon dioxide back into the environment; this process takes place every time we take a breath.

Many people think that respiration is breathing which is not the case at all.Breathing is simply the process of air going in and out of the lungs, which are also referred to as pulmonary ventilation. People don’t think of how they breathe on a normal basis. Inspiration and expiration is the key whether you know it or not.

Inspiration simply moves air into the lungs and expiration moves air out of the lungs. I know it seems simple, I thought so too but it is hardly a simple process. A change in the thoracic cavity is responsible for the change of air pressure in the thoracic cavity and the lungs.The change in air pressure is why the lungs move air in and out. When you breathe air in or inhale which is inspiration you notice your chest gets bigger because it is making room for the oxygen to fill the lungs and they expand. When this happens, the chest cavity increases in size which reduces the pressure allowing air to enter the lungs.

During expiration the opposite occurs and the thorax goes back to its relaxed size and shape. This causes the air in the lungs to go back out into the environment. The elastic recoil of the lung tissues also aids in expiration.Forcefully exhaling involves decreasing the size of the thoracic cavity with some help from two muscles. The first is called the internal intercoastals which decreases the size of the thorax from front to back.

The second is he abdominal muscles which decreases the size of the thorax from top to bottom. There is no energy involved with expiration. If you were to hold your breath you will notice that your body will force you to exhale and to inhale again. The brain needs oxygen and when deprived of oxygen yes you could die, or should I say you will die.You will no longer be able to control your breathing at that moment and that is how people drown, because they are forced to exhale and inhale again but instead of oxygen filling the lungs water does.

And I think we all know the end of that story, which goes to show just how complex our bodies are. Many gases are in the air as well as in our blood. Oxygen and carbon dioxide being two of the gases in the respiratory system are present in the lungs.

Oxygen is constantly being taken from the blood and used for the body cells. Gas moves from areas with high pressure to areas with low pressure.Carbon dioxide goes from the capillaries entering the lung into the alveoli in the lung. Oxygen then moves from the alveoli in the lung to the capillaries that enter the lung. This process is what oxygenates the blood; the oxygenated blood delivers the oxygen through the tissue and takes the carbon dioxide that is made from cellular metabolism and is released back into the environment. Volumes of air exchanged in breathing can be measured with a special device called a spirometer, this device measures pulmonary volumes. Every time we take a breath we are breathing in and out about one pint of air into and out of our lungs.In our book Elsevier says, “Because this amount comes and goes regularly like the tides of the sea, it is referred to as the tidal volume (TV).

” The book also states, “The largest amount of air taken in one expiration is known as the vital capacity (VC). ” (Elsevier 2008). People that have diseases such as lung disease, emphysema, and heart problems have their tidal volume and vital capacity checked on a normal basis since conditions such as those can cause an abnormal amount of air going in and out of the lungs. When we use a lot of energy that requires us to use more oxygen since oxygen is what gives us the energy we need.The harder we work or run or do activities the more oxygen we need to intake to give to the millions of cells in the body. This is the reason when we run we breathe harder and deeper because our body is trying to keep up with us. When we breathe harder and faster our heart is also beating faster which is causing blood to pump more through the body each minute.

Therefore the red blood cells make more trips and deliver more oxygen to the tissue cells also getting rid of more carbon dioxide than if we were doing nothing. Located in the medulla and pons of our brain is what is called the respiratory control center.In our book on page 382 it says, “These centers are in turn regulated by a number of inputs from receptors located in varying areas of the body.

These receptors can sense the need for changing the rate or depth of respirations to maintain homeostasis. ” (Elsevier 2008). I personally never imagined how complex the process of breathing was and how everything worked. I like many people I am sure do not pay attention to their breathing and how you can feel your chest go out side to side and up and down.

While lying in bed I noticed that this is the case and I shouldn’t have had to read a book to realize that.It goes to show everything is our body is connected in one way or another. It is also possible to control your breathing, not like when you exercise it is hard to control how you breathe because your body is trying to get the oxygen it needs at the time. But when you are relaxed or not working so hard you are able to control whether you breathe fast or slow deep or shallow. The cerebral cortex is responsible for the ability to do these actions. When you talk there are periods you don’t breathe and then you take a breath. Also when you swim it allows you to hold your breath under water for short periods of time, some people longer than others.

This process is called conscious control because we know we are controlling our breathing. But when our body senses that we need oxygen it takes over and forces us to breathe. There are also some reflexes that influence respiration.

The first being chemoreflexes, these chemoreceptors are good for detecting oxygen and carbon dioxide levels as well as blood acid levels to keep our body safe and healthy. Next would be pulmonary stretch reflexes, these are located in the lungs through the pulmonary airways as well as in the alveoli.These reflexes are promoting normal breathing to help protect the respiratory system from stretching too much. Many different types of breathing occur in different people. Some of those are eupnea, hyperventilation, hypoventilation, dyspnea, apnea, and respiratory arrest. Eupneais considered a normal rate of breathing and the needs of the body are being met. Hyper and hypoventilation means one is either breathing too fast and deep or too slow and shallow which is not healthy for the body. Dyspnea is means difficulty breathing and is closely related to hypoventilation.

Apnea however is when you stop breathing briefly or for a period of time, many people have this problem when they are asleep which can be very dangerous if not treated and is caused because the tonsils are larger than normal. And the worst case being respiratory arrest which is associated with apnea, this is when you do not start breathing again after a long period of apnea. This is why if you know you have a condition you should see a physician because it can cause you to die if not treated. The respiratory system structure is put together in a genius way so that we can breathe and get everything we need to maintain homeostasis.

First there is the upper respiratory tract which includes the nasal cavity, and the three sets of pharynx. Next is the lower respiratory tract which includes the larynx, trachea, left and right primary bronchi, the bronchioles, and of course the lungs. Air enters through the nose and mouth. Inside the nasal cavity is respiratory mucosa, this aids in filtration of dust and other particles that may be breathed in. The nose is also separated into two parts by the nasal septum.

The purpose of the respiratory mucosa is to purify the air.Also the function of the nose is simply to warm and moisten the air that we inhale, and contains sense organs of smell. The conchae are what make a longer trip for air to pass through the nose and on. The reason for this is because the air needs to be warmed and humidified before going into the lungs. That is why when it is cold outside it is better to breathe through the nose than through the mouth. The pharynx is also part of the upper respiratory system; the three parts are the nasopharynx, oropharynx, and the laryngopharynx.

The nasopharynx is the part of the tube that is right behind the nasal cavities.In our book on page 366 Elsevier states, “The right and left auditory, or eustachian tubes open into the nasopharynx; they connect the middle ears with the nasopharynx. ” This is how you can get an ear infection if your nasopharynx becomes inflamed because they are connected. The adenoids are also in the nasopharynx; these are also better known as the pharyngeal tonsils. When you have to have your tonsils removed these are the ones that the doctor is most likely taking out.

The oropharynx is right behind the mouth, this is where palatine tonsils are located which are also normally removed along with the adenoids in a tonsillectomy.And the lowest part of the pharynx is the laryngopharynx. The pharynx allows food and air to pass through to the lungs and stomach. Below the pharynx is the larynx, another name for this would be the voice box. This would also be the home of the thyroid cartilage or better known to many as the Adam’s apple, as well as the vocal cords. When the vocal cords in the larynx are tight or tense then it may sound like one is screeching or the voice is very high, and of course the opposite occurs when they are relaxed they are of a lower pitch. The epiglottis is what helps keep food out of the trachea.It is considered a “trap door” without it every time we had something to eat we would surely choke.

And if food gets into your lungs it is considered a very bad thing, I believe I remember hearing from a wonderful anatomy and physiology II teacher that if this happens then they have to go in and take the food out. Following the larynx is the windpipe; it is a tube that is 11 cm in length. It goes from the larynx all the way down to the bronchi in the chest. In our book on page 369 Elsevier says, “Certainly one of its most important roles is to furnish part of the open passageway through which air can reach the lungs from outside. This statement from our text is of course referring to the windpipe. Another importance of the windpipe is to get rid of harmful contaminants; the mucus traps the contaminants and moves it up and toward the pharynx. To the right you can see what a real trachea looks like. There is hard cartilage that prevents the trachea from getting damaged, they are hard rings that make up the trachea with little cushion in-between.

After the larynx would be the bronchi, bronchioles, and the alveoli. Some people say this looks like an upside down tree personally when I look at it I think of grapes on a stem.However you see it these play a vital part of our respiratory system.

The bronchi and bronchioles are vital to get air into and out of the alveoli. The alveoli contain what is called surfactant, this is what keeps them from collapsing when air goes in and out of them. And then there are the lungs, which we all know are very important. The lungs are pretty big organs in our chest cavity. In the right lung there are three lobes while in the left there are two.

The outer surface of the lung is covered by what is called pleura which is a thin, moist, slippery membrane as it says in our book.The pleura is there so that when the lungs expand when you are breathing the outside is slippery and when rubbing against anything it will not get damaged. All of the information provided goes to show that the respiratory system and all of its parts are very complex. In this essay I went over all of the parts of the respiratory system and the functions. After doing this essay I don’t think I will ever think about how I breathe the same, I mean like I used to. I never really thought of what it takes just to have a breath of air and what that breathe of air is actually doing for me.But as it turns out my respiratory system is taking that simple breath of air and keeping all of us going from day to day, whether through strenuous activity or a relaxing evening. So the next time you take a breath you can think of how complex it is and all the functions happening with each one.

ReferencesEssientials of Human Diseases and Conditions (pp. 390-431). (2009).

Diseases and Conditions of the Respiratory Syetem. St. Louis: Saunders Elsevier. (Original work published 2006) Respiratory System:Basic Science and Clinical Conditions. (2003).

Spain: Churchhill Livingston. Original work published 2003) Structure & Function of the Body (pp. 360-389). (2008). The Respiratory System.

St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier. (Original work published 1960) Pictures: First image: Retrieved on 09/13/10 from website http://www. google. com/images? client=safari&rls=en&q=regulation+of+respiration+pics&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=WH-PTJ6jFoWhngfLxfjzDQ&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CCIQsAQwAA&biw=1008&bih=649 Trachea Image: Retrieved on 09/13/10 from website http://eduspace. free. fr/vs_pages/heart_dissection.

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