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16: Respiratory System

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    This chapter describes the structure and function of the respiratory system, including how breathing occurs and what controls it, as well as how the process of gas exchange takes place in the lungs. The chapter also describes several disorders of the respiratory system and details the adverse health effects of smoking.

    • 16.1: Case Study: Respiratory System and Gas Exchange
      Three weeks ago, 20-year-old Sacheen had a runny nose, fatigue, and a mild cough. Her symptoms had been starting to improve, but recently her cough has been getting worse. Her doctor diagnoses her with acute bronchitis, which you will better understand as you read this chapter on the respiratory system, along with the treatment recommendations for this disease.
    • 16.2: Structure and Function of the Respiratory System
      Respiration is the life-sustaining process in which gases are exchanged between the body and the outside atmosphere. Specifically, oxygen moves from the outside air into the body; and water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other waste gases move from inside the body into the outside air. Respiration is carried out mainly by the respiratory system. Respiration by the respiratory system is not the same process as cellular respiration that occurs inside cells, although they are closely connected.
    • 16.3: Breathing
      The swimmer in this photo is doing the butterfly stroke. This swimming style requires the swimmer to carefully control his breathing so it is coordinated with his swimming movements. Breathing is the process of moving air into and out of the lungs, which are the organs in which gas exchange takes place between the atmosphere and the body. Breathing is also called ventilation, and it is one of two parts of the life-sustaining process of respiration, the other part being gas exchange.
    • 16.4: Disorders of the Respiratory System
      Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways in the lungs, in which the airways periodically become inflamed. Another common inflammatory disease of the respiratory tract is pneumonia. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease characterized by chronic poor airflow. Lung cancer is a malignant tumor characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung.
    • 16.5: Smoking and Health
      tobacco smoking has adverse effects on just about every bodily system and organ. The detrimental health effects of smoking depend on the number of years that a person smokes and how much the person smokes. Contrary to popular belief, all forms of tobacco smoke - including smoke from cigars and tobacco pipes - have similar health risks as those of cigarette smoke. Smokeless tobacco may be less of a danger to the lungs and heart, but it too has serious health effects.
    • 16.6: Case Study Conclusion: Bronchitis and Chapter Summary
      As you have learned in this chapter, the respiratory system is critical to carry out the gas exchange necessary for life’s functions and to protect the body from pathogens and other potentially harmful substances in the air. But this ability to interface with the outside air has a cost. The respiratory system is prone to infections, as well as damage and other negative effects from allergens, mold, air pollution, and cigarette smoke.

    16: Respiratory System is shared under a CK-12 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Suzanne Wakim & Mandeep Grewal via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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