Natural Sciences

Respiratory system

The respiratory system is made up of a set of organs that together carry out the breathing process in the human body. The specific function of this process is to obtain oxygen (O 2 ) and exhale the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced during cellular metabolism.

How does it work?

This device performs two major tasks: inspiration , which is an active process, and expiration , which is the passive process. Together breathing occurs.

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On inspiration, when we inhale (oxygen), the rib cage increases in volume, the lungs fill with air and expand. The air that enters through the nose heats up reaching a temperature of up to 25ºC. The air also arrives humidified due to glandular secretions.

During expiration the rib cage slowly returns to its initial state as we empty our lungs.

Normally, these two movements are done involuntarily. The lungs also expand and contract involuntarily. Between inspiration and expiration there are brief pauses that are perhaps imperceptible.

During breathing, the blood is oxygenated and is pumped by the heart to all the organs of the body.

Parts of the respiratory system

Nose . Its two holes or nostrils are the channels through which air enters at the beginning of inspiration. The hairs found in these cavities help clean the air of the particles present.

Larynx . It is the organ that houses the vocal cords and closes during the feeding process to prevent swallowing food from entering the airways.

Windpipe . It is a tube of about 12cm in length through which the dust that could enter is expelled into the pharynx.

Bronchi, Bronchioles and Alveoli. The bronchi penetrate the lungs and divide into bronchioles. Each of the bronchioles forms dozens of pulmonary alveoli that look like small sacs that are lined with blood vessels, through which the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs to and from the blood, respectively.

Lungs . They are two large organs located in the thorax and that are protected by the ribs. The right lung has three fragments, while the left has two of them. It is smaller because it shares the space with the heart.

The diaphragm. It is a large, thin muscle that is found under the lungs. Its main function is to contract and expand during inspiration and expiration.

Examples of diseases of the respiratory system

There are risk factors that increase the chances of suffering from a respiratory disease, some are: smoking, inhalation of dust or chemicals, environmental pollution and others. Some of the diseases that can occur are:

  • Respiratory insufficiency
  • Rhinosinusitis
  • Acute pharyngotonsillitis (angina)
  • Diphtheria
  • Diseases of the larynx
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Whooping cough (whooping cough)
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Asthma
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Obliterative bronchiolitis
  • Pneumonia caused by microorganisms
  • Interstitial lung diseases
  • Tuberculosis and mycobacteriosis
  • Lung neoplasms
  • Pleural mesothelioma
  • Obstructive sleep apnea and hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS)
  • Pleural effusion
  • Pneumothorax
  • Pneumomediastinum
  • Subcutaneous emphysema
  • Mediastinal tumors and cysts
  • Acute mediastinitis

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