Respiratory System Made Easy
The respiratory tract conveys air from the mouth and nose to the lungs, where the gases oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged between the alveoli and the capillaries.
The respiratory tract conveys air from the mouth and nose to the lungs, where the gases oxygen and …
The human gas-exchanging organ, the lung, is located in the thorax, where its delicate tissues are protected by the bony and muscular thoracic cage. The lung provides the tissues of the human body with a continuous flow of oxygen and clears the blood of the gaseous waste product, carbon dioxide. Atmospheric air is pumped in and out regularly through a system of pipes, called conducting airways, which join the gas-exchange region with the outside of the body. The airways can be divided into upper and lower airway systems. The transition between the two systems is located where the pathways of the respiratory and digestive systems cross, just at the top of the larynx.
The upper airway system comprises the nose and the paranasal cavities (or sinuses), the pharynx (or throat), and partly also the oral cavity, since it may be used for breathing. The lower airway system consists of the larynx, the trachea, the stem bronchi, and all the airways ramifying intensively within the lungs, such as the intrapulmonary bronchi, the bronchioles, and the alveolar ducts. For respiration, the collaboration of other organ systems is clearly essential. The diaphragm, as the main respiratory muscle, and the intercostal muscles of the chest wall play an essential role by generating, under the control of the central nervous system, the pumping action on the lung. The muscles expand and contract the internal space of the thorax, the bony framework of which is formed by the ribs and the thoracic vertebrae. The contribution of the lung and chest wall (ribs and muscles) to respiration is described below in The mechanics of breathing. The blood, as a carrier for the gases, and the circulatory system (i.e., the heart and the blood vessels) are mandatory elements of a working respiratory system (see blood; cardiovascular system).