Basic Structure of the Respiratory System

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The respiratory system starts at the nose, where air enters the nostrils. Inside the nostril is a thin coating called Mucosa. It has a few important functions, to warm the air as it passes through, and trap incoming bacteria and debris by producing sticky mucus when the air is moistened. Once trapped, the Cilia take over and move the mucus towards the Pharynx or the throat. There it is swallowed and digested by the stomach. On a cold day the cilia is less effective and a build up is caused. This is why we get runny noses. Smoking inhibits the cilia and will eventually destroy it. Coughing becomes the only way to dispel the mucus to prevent it entering the lungs. The Pharynx is a muscular passageway about 13cm long is a common passageway for food and air. However after the pharynx the air enters the Larynx and food enters the oesophagus.

Larynx or voice box is located below the Pharynx. The Epiglottis protects the upper opening by acting like a lid or valve, when swallowing it closes to prevent food entering the windpipe. The windpipe or Trachea is the only way for air to enter the lungs. At its base it is split into two directions. This is the Primary Bronchi. Each side leads to its own lung. The right primary bronchus is larger in diameter and straighter than the left. The lungs themselves contain lobes which are divisions of the lung. The left has two, the right has three. Jongsil will speak now about the interactions of the respiratory system with the rest of the body.

BibliographyAnatomy Atlas, 1988, Langenscheidt Publishing Group, New YorkFarabee, M.J., 2001, The Respiratory System, (online) available from:, [19 April 2007]Greenblatt, Robert B., 2005, Lung Surface Area, (online) available from:, [22 April...