The respiratory system is a biological system consisting of specific organs and structures used for the process of respiration in an organism. Respiration takes place in the respiratory organs called lungs. The passage of air into the lungs to supply the body with oxygen is known as inhalation, and the passage of air out of the lungs to expel carbon dioxide is known as exhalation; this process is collectively called breathing or ventilation.
Respiratory system functions
A respiratory system’s function is to allow gas exchange. The space between the alveoli and the capillaries, the anatomy or structure of the exchange system, and the precise physiological uses of the exchanged gases vary depending on the organism.
In humans, for example, the anatomical features of the respiratory system include airways, lungs, and the respiratory muscles. Molecules of oxygen and carbon dioxide are passively exchanged, by diffusion, between the gaseous external environment and the blood. This exchange process occurs in the alveolar region of the lungs.
Respiratory system diseases
Disorders of the respiratory system can be classified into four general areas:
- Obstructive conditions (e.g., emphysema, bronchitis, asthma)
- Restrictive conditions (e.g., fibrosis, sarcoidosis, alveolar damage, pleural effusion)
- Vascular diseases (e.g., pulmonary edema, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension)
- Infectious, environmental and other “diseases” (e.g., pneumonia, tuberculosis, asbestosis, particulate pollutants):
Coughing is of major importance, as it is the body’s main method to remove dust, mucus, saliva, and other debris from the lungs. Inability to cough can lead to infection. Deep breathing exercises may help keep finer structures of the lungs clear from particulate matter, etc.