The Respiratory System Job

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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The respiratory system job is to supply oxygen to all parts of the body. Oxygen is carried through the body by red blood cells. The cells in our body need constant oxygen to stay alive. If not, our brain cells will die after four minutes without oxygen. The process known as breathing consist of inhaling and exhaling, which is the respiratory systems way of taking in oxygen and getting rid of the waste gas, carbon dioxide. If carbon dioxide were to build up in our bodies, it could become very dangerous.

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Our respiratory system filters the air we breathe in through our mouth and nose. Air enters the body via the nose through two nostrils. When the air passes through the nasal cavity, cilia filters out foreign material. The cilia is made up of membranes and fine hairs. It is also used to warm and moisten the air according to The Language of Medicine, 11th Edition. After the air is filtered and passed through the nasal cavity, it reaches the pharynx.

There are three parts to the pharynx: nasopharynx which contain adenoids, oropharynx (tonsils), and laryngopharynx which is what separates the passageways for food and air. The pharynx goes from the base of the skull to the level of 5th cervical vertebra. It divides into the esophagus and larynx. The larynx is our voice box. It contains our vocal cords that are surrounded by cartilage to keep the airway open. This cartilage in mean is called the Adam’s apple. When air passes through the vocal cords, it vibrates to make sounds.

The tension determines the pitch of the voice. The esophagus carries food to the stomach so it can be digested. That’s when the epiglottis comes in. It prevents food and drinks from entering the larynx when moving through the throat from swallowing. It’s located at the root of the tongue. This cartilage keeps us from choking and material entering the lungs. The air passes through the larynx to the trachea which is our windpipe.

Our windpipe is kept open to about 20 C- shaped rings of cartilage and is about 11-12 centimeters long and almost 3 centimeters wide. They are separated by connective tissue. The trachea is divided into two branches, the left and right bronchial tubes known as the bronchi. Each one leads to a separate lung where it divides to smaller tubes called bronchioles. The bronchioles end with little air sacs called alveoli.

They help purify blood that moves in and out of the pulmonary arteries and veins that connect to the heart. “The pulmonary vessels operate backwards from the rest of the body’s vasculature: The pulmonary arteries carry deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs, and the pulmonary veins carry oxygenated blood back to the heart to be distributed to the body.” ( There are 300 million air sacs located in both lungs.

Each one is lined with epithelium. It allows an exchange of gases between the alveolus and capillary. Each lung is covered by the pleura. The outer layer is called the parietal pleura and the inner layer is the visceral pleura. Our lungs do not mirror each other. The right lung has three lobes and the left has two lobes. The left lung is smaller due to the heart. The upper part of the lung is called the apex and the lower part is called the base.

The middle region of the lung allows the bronchial tubes enter and exit. It is called the hilum. There are many diseases that can effect the respiratory system. One disease is Tuberculosis. Symptoms of tuberculosis are bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer, weight loss, loss of appetite, coughing up blood or mucus, weakness or fatigue, fever and night sweats. There are several different ways to test for tuberculosis.

It can be taken on the skin, by blood, or X-ray. Tuberculosis is transmitted through infected droplets in the air when inhaled. An infection of the lung is called pneumonia which inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs with pus or other products. Symptoms with pneumonia include chest pain when breathing or coughing, confusion, fatigue, fever, sweating and cold chills, lower body temperature, nausea, diarrhea, and shortness of breath.

The age group who are at higher risk for pneumonia are 2 years old or younger and 65 years old or older. “Pneumoconiosis is also a simplified medical description of the condition, and the UK public at large know it as black lung or silicosis.”  It is the inhalation of silica (glass) dust which is found in volcano ash. When inhaled the dust goes through the alveoli and into the blood stream, causing white blood cells to release cytokines stimulating fibroblasts.

These fibroblasts stimulations cause fibrosis. The dust also makes silicone-based radicals that release compounds that damage cells. Some symptoms are coughing, weight and appetite loss, and shortness of breath. The most common disease is lung cancer. Lung cancer is divided into two different categories: non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Lung cancer is often associated with cigarette smoking but has different causes especially for those who do not smoke.

One cause could be from a change in epithelial lung tissue. “An example is a mutation in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is sensitive to treatment with EGFR inhibitors (Iressa and Tarceva). This is an example of targeted drug therapy for cancer. Examples of tumors treatable by interfering with mutated gene products are increasing.

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The Respiratory System Job. (2019, Feb 28). Retrieved from