The Respiratory System

The human respiratory system is a sequence of organs responsible for taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. The human body needs oxygen to maintain itself. After four to six minutes brain cells without oxygen are destroyed and leads to brain damage and ultimately death. In humans, the average rate of breathing is dependent upon age. Newborns up to 6 weeks take 30 to 60 breaths per minute, while the average resting respiratory rate for adults is 12 to 20 breaths per minute.

Physical energy also has an impact on respiratory rate and healthy adults can average 45 breaths per minute during strenuous exercise. The lungs are the main organs of the respiratory system. In the lungs oxygen is taken into the body and carbon dioxide is breathed out. The red blood cells are responsible for picking up the oxygen in the lungs and carrying the oxygen to all the body cells that need it. The red blood cells drop off the oxygen to the body cells, then pick up the carbon dioxide which is a waste gas product produced by our cells. The red blood cells transport the carbon dioxide back to the lungs and we breathe it out when we exhale.

The trachea is sometimes called the windpipe. The trachea filters the air we breathe and branches into the bronchi. The bronchi are two air tubes that branch off of the trachea and carry air directly into the lungs. Breathing starts with a dome-shaped muscle at the bottom of the lungs called the diaphragm.

You may take breathing for granted, thinking that it is just an involuntary reflex action. But for the some people who suffer from respiratory diseases, each breath is a major achievement. Those people include patients with chronic lung problems, such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, but they also include heart attack and accident victims, premature infants, and people with cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, or AIDS.

The human respiratory system not only provides oxygen to each cell of the body but also removes body wastes, filters out infectious agents, and provides air needed for speech. Although the lungs are able to with stand abuse in the form of smoke and other pollutants, a number of disorders impair its function. Some of these maladies are temporary and relatively harmless; others may be life-threatening. Any chronic breathing problem or other cough should be checked promptly. Take care of your lungs and they will take care of you.

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