In humans 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 disease is a medical term that encompasses pathological conditions affecting the organs and tissues that make gas exchange possible in higher organisms, and includes conditions of the upper respiratory tract, trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli, pleura and pleural cavity, and the nerves and muscles of breathing. Respiratory diseases range from mild and self-limiting, such as the common cold, to life-threatening entities like bacterial pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, and lung cancer.
The respiratory system can be subdivided into an upper respiratory tract and a lower respiratory tract based on anatomical features. The upper respiratory tract includes the nasal passages, pharynx and the larynx, while the lower respiratory tract is comprised of the trachea, the primary bronchi and lungs.
The primary function of the respiratory system is to supply the blood with oxygen in order for the blood to deliver oxygen to all parts of the body. The respiratory system does this through breathing. When we breathe, we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. This exchange of gases is the respiratory system's means of getting oxygen to the blood.
The respiratory system lies dormant in the human fetus during pregnancy. At birth, the respiratory system becomes fully functional upon exposure to air, although some lung development and growth continues throughout childhood. Pre-term birth can lead to infants with under-developed lungs.
Smoking and air pollution are two common causes of respiratory problems.
Disorders of the respiratory system can be classified into four general areas:
The respiratory tract is constantly exposed to microbes due to the extensive surface area, which is why the respiratory system includes many mechanisms to defend itself and prevent pathogens from entering the body.
Common Respiratory Disorders Include:
Disorders of the respiratory system are usually treated internally by a pulmonologist or respiratory physician.
1 : Almost 100M Adults Have COPD in China Mainly Due to Smoking and Air Pollution : Tulane University.
3 : e-Cigarette Chemical Flavors Linked to Respiratory Disease : Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
4 : Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): Symptoms, Transmission & Prevention : Thomas C. Weiss.
5 : Bronchitis: Symptoms, Testing, and Treatment : Thomas C. Weiss.
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