The respiratory system isn't just breathing in and out: It's a complex system that brings oxygen to all of the body's cells. After five minutes without taking any oxygen into your body, your brain cells begin to die: That's how important the respiratory system is. But how does it work, and how can we make sure our lungs are clean and healthy?
What Is the Respiratory System?
The respiratory system is a set of processes designed to carry oxygen into your body and carbon dioxide out. This begins by breathing in through your lungs. The oxygen is pulled into the alveoli, tiny sacs surrounded by blood vessels. The oxygen is absorbed into the blood, and it's carried to the cells to be exchanged for carbon dioxide; this exchange is called internal respiration. Then, the carbon dioxide is carried back to the lungs to be exhaled.
- Introduction to the Respiratory System: Learn about how oxygen gets from outside of your body to the inside of all of your cells.
- Respiratory System: Our Avenue for Gas Exchange: Go in-depth into the respiratory system and the ailments it can have.
- Five Functions of the Respiratory System: Breathing is only one of the things that happen in the respiratory system.
- Breathing: We breathe all the time, but have you ever really thought about how breathing works? Find out more here.
- How Do Lungs Work? Read this article to find out about the structure of the lungs and how they work.
- Why Does the Human Body Release Carbon Dioxide? With every breath we take, we add more carbon dioxide into the air. But why?
- Acid-Base Balance in the Body: One of the things releasing carbon dioxide does is help to balance the acidity of our blood.
About the Lungs
A lot of people imagine the lungs as big bags of air in the middle of their chest, but that doesn't really paint an accurate picture. Each lung is filled with bronchi and bronchioles, tiny interconnected tubes that look a bit like an upside-down tree. Breathing fills these tubes, and then at the end, in the alveolithe oxygen passes into the bloodstream.
- About the Lungs: Find out more about the different parts of this organ.
- How Do the Lungs Work? Your lungs have an important job, so it's important to take steps to protect them from the disease.
- Lung Anatomy and Function: This article includes images to help you understand the parts of the lungs and how they work.
- Your Lungs and Respiratory System: Take a look at the muscles involved in helping you to breathe.
- Amazing Facts About Your Lungs: Ready to learn some fun trivia? Read on to learn about the complexity of lungs and what they can do.
- Take a Look Inside: Try this interactive tool to get a closer look at the lungs.
- Find Out About Breathing: This diagram shows you not only the lungs but everything around them and how it all fits together.
Diseases of the lung and respiratory system can range from mild to incredibly dangerous. On the mild side, asthma is one of the most common respiratory diseases. When you have asthma, you struggle to breathe and may use an inhaler for certain activities. One of the more serious respiratory ailments is lung cancer. Mesothelioma is also a severe health issue; it's a form of lung cancer that is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is another common respiratory disease to be aware of. It can take years to appear but can often be prevented by simply avoiding smoking. This is the number one way to avoid most of the worst respiratory diseases: Do not smoke, and if you already smoke, quit.
- Lung Disease: This quick overview covers the most common diseases that can affect the lungs.
- Eight Common Respiratory Illnesses and Diseases: Learn about some of the most frequently diagnosed lung ailments here.
- Chronic Respiratory Diseases: Hundreds of millions of people all over the world suffer from a variety of respiratory illnesses. Learn all about them from the World Health Organization.
- Respiratory Diseases: This article looks at what we know about these diseases and what experts are studying to try to help people be healthier.
- Prevent Respiratory Diseases: Follow this advice to keep your airways in peak condition.
- Lung Cancer: Lung cancer can have a variety of causes and often drastically shortens a person's life.
- Understanding Asthma: Asthma is one of the most common respiratory diseases, but with careful management and treatment, it can be controlled.
- Occupational Respiratory Disease: Sometimes, people are exposed to toxins on the job that cause respiratory problems.
- Facts About Mesothelioma: Asbestos exposure is the most common cause of this type of cancer, which often affects the membrane around the lungs.
- COPD Overview: The Mayo Clinic can teach you about this common disease associated with the respiratory system.
- Basics About COPD: The CDC offers tips on COPD's causes and treatment.