The Respiratory System
A Review of the System, Its Components, and Diseases That Can Affect It
What is the respiratory system? Why do we need to breathe? Can the process be changed or altered? The information in this paper will help you find out how the respiratory system works, what the components are that make the system work, and the many diseases that can change or alter the process.
The respiratory system is made up of the organs and tissues in your body that help you breathe. The goal of breathing is to deliver oxygen to the body and take away carbon dioxide, a waste product that can be deadly if allowed to accumulate. The cells of the human body require a constant stream of oxygen to stay alive. The body needs oxygen to provide energy and growth to body cells. The respiratory system resides in the upper abdomen and chest area where the oxygen comes in through the nose, through inhalation, and is processed by the lungs. After air leaves the head it travels down through the trachea. It divides into two branches, the left and right bronchus, that enters into the lungs. There it goes into a thin membrane lining the walls of the lungs called the alveoli. “As a result, oxygen diffuses across microthin membranes into the blood from the alveoli and carbon dioxide diffuses into the alveoli from the blood” (Petechuk, 2004, pg. 20). So when you inhale, oxygen goes into the blood, and when you exhale carbon dioxide comes out of the blood.
There are many components that make up the respiratory system. There is an upper respiratory system and a lower respiratory system. In the upper respiratory system you will find the nose, pharynx, and larynx. The lower respiratory tract is made up of the trachea, bronchial tree, the lungs and diaphragm (which is actually part of the muscular system, but is very necessary to the respiratory system). The nose filters and provides a passageway for air on its way to the lungs. The nose leads to the pharynx, which is also known as the throat. It is a passageway for both air and food. It is divided into two sections, the trachea and the esophagus. The trachea diverts air from the nose to the lungs. It has a flap called the epiglottis to cover the opening of the trachea so food and liquid do not get into the lungs. Below the pharynx and on top of the trachea is the larynx, also known as the voicebox. The larynx is where we produce voice, it also helps us swallow and breathe. Air passes through the trachea and enters the bronchial tree, “a series of branching tubes of progressively smaller diameter that lead to the lung surface” (Whittemore, 2004, pg. 35). The bronchial tree is made up of the trachea, the two main bronchi, bronchioles (smaller airways), and alveoli (tiny spongy sacs at the ends of the bronchioles). The alveoli are surrounded by tiny blood vessels called capillaries. When you inhale, the air can move into the capillaries then...