Respiratory Function / Dysfunction

Essay by florencenightingaleUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, January 2004

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Respiratory Function / Dysfunction

This paper will describe the structure and function of the lungs. It will also explain the effect of asthma on the lungs, and outline the consequences of a dysfunction of the respiratory system. The main treatment for asthma shall be explained, alongside a range of treatment responses in minimizing this dysfunction. Measures on how asthma attacks can be prevented and the lifestyle factors associated with the maintenance of a healthy functioning system shall also be discussed.

The respiratory system is made up of the lungs, and the system of air tubes that carry oxygen (air) to and from the lungs, the respiratory system is separated into two major parts, the upper airway and the lower airway. The upper airway works to move air to the lower airway. The upper airway consists of the nasal cavity (nose), air is drawn through the nostrils into the body, where it is warmed and moistened.

The walls of the nasal cavity have a carpet of tiny hair-like bristles called Cilia, that sweep debris and mucus upward, so that it is swallowed or coughed out. Other cells, called Goblet cells, line the airways and secrete sticky mucus to trap dust or other particles. The consistent sweeping motion of the cilia filter out debris so when oxygen finally reaches the tiny alveoli, in the lungs, it is clean. The nasal passages are also responsible for the sense of smell.

After the nasal passages, the air travels through the pharynx (throat) then on to pass through the larynx (voice box). The larynx runs directly into the trachea (windpipe) and is the connection between the upper airway and the lower airway (Figure1). There are C-shaped cartilage rings that surround these airways, which hold the trachea permanently open, causing them to expand when breathing in...