Respiration in the Human Body
Respiratory system of the human body has an important role to play in that it is responsible for the continuous supply of oxygen to all the body cells as well as removing carbon dioxide from the body. The main channels for this process of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide are the mouth and the nose. The human body contains a network of tubes which reach every cell to help the breathing process.
During the actual breathing process, the respiration muscles (which include the intercostal muscles and the diaphragm) work together as a pump, helping to push air into the lungs and then out of them.
Components of the Respiratory System:
Nose and Naval Cavity – This is the main route that the air takes to get into and out of the lungs. Inside the nose cavity there is a membrane lined with mucus which helps to trap dust and germs. Also the hair within the nose helps to control large particles of dust from entering the lungs. The nasopharynx allows only the air to pass for breathing.
Mouth – Serves almost the same purpose as the nose but is not the primary source for breathing. Although the mouth lacks the extra filtrated protection given by the nose, it is in fact a much faster way of getting air to the lungs and does so in larger quantities. The epiglottis which is a cartilage flap plays an important role in that it covers the entrance to larynx when food is being swallowed.
Pharynx – This is a short tube which running from the back of the nasal cavity to the larynx (voice box). It is better known as the throat and consists of 3 parts:
- Nasopharynx: Allows air to pass through.
- Oropharynx: Allows food and fluid to also pass.
- Laryngopharynx: Also allows food and fluids to pass.
Larynx – A short tube which joins the pharynx with the trachea. This part of the throat is associated with the production of speech.
Trachea – This is the actual wind pipe as it serves to be the main entrance to the lungs. It is surrounded by c-shaped cartilage rings.
Bronchi and Bronchioles – The main role of the bronchi and bronchioles is to carry air from the trachea into the lungs. There is a left and right bronchi branching into the left and right lung. From there they further branch into secondary bronchi and then into smaller tertiary bronchi covering the entire lobe of each lung. The very tiny bronchioles then provide air to the lung’s alveoli which are tiny air sacs much like bunches of grapes. This is where the gas exchange takes place.
Lungs – These are sponge like organs protected by the ribcage and their role is to organise a gas exchange system helping the body to receive and emit fresh and used air supply. Internally they consist of a tree like structure. The left and right lung differs slightly in size as the right lung has 3 lobes and the left lung has only 2 lobes.
Respiration Muscles – The lungs are surrounded by muscles which allow air to be pushed in and out of them. The main muscle is the diaphragm which is a thin skeletal muscle lying underneath the lungs and which when contracted, allows more space and therefore air to be pulled into the lungs. When the diaphragm relaxes, it allows air to be exhaled out of the lungs. The intercostal muscles assist the diaphragm with its movements and are known as internal and external intercostal muscles.
On occasion there are times when the respiratory system does not function properly. Some of these problems are as a result of the following:
- Common Colds and Influenza
- Upper Airway Infection
- Acute or Chronic Bronchitis
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Occupational Diseases
- Lung Cancer
Healthy Respiratory System:
Refrain from smoking and keep to a healthy immune boosting diet. The environment has an effect in if you work in a hazardous environment whereby you inhale dangerous toxins often, it can have a long term negative effect on the health of your lungs.
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