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nasal cavity

the areas above the oral cavity and continuous with the sinuses of the skull; described as the opening to the respiratory system

functions of nasal cavity

lined with ciliated columnar epithelium and mucus secreting goblet cells; "filters" incoming air; moisten incoming air and warms incoming air; holds olfactory (smell) sensory epithelium

components of nasal cavity (nasal bones)

skull bones that form the bridge of the nose

components of nasal cavity (nasal septum)

a perpendicular bony plate that separates the nose into the right and left sides

components of nasal cavity (nasal conchae)

scroll-like bony processes that project medially into the nasal cavity; function to increase the surface area of nasal epithelium

components of nasal cavity (nostrils/nares)

openings to the nasal cavity to conduct air inward and outward during breathing

phraynx (throat)

the posterior continuation of the oral and nasal cavitities; composed of muscle and walls lined with ciliated epithelium and mucus secreting goblet cells; serves a a passageway for the respiratory and digestive tracts

subdivisions of pharynx (oropharynx)

directly continuous with oral cavity

subdivisions of pharynx (nasopharynx)

directly continuous with nasal cavity

subdivisions of pharynx (laryngopharynx)

most posterior and includes the openings to the esophagus and the trachea (glottis)

subdivisions of pharynx (lymph glands)

within the phraynx there are several masses of lymph glands that function in defense; tonsils (palatine tonsils in the oropharynx), adenoids (pharyngeal tonsils in the nasopharynx), lingual tonsils (near the root of the tongue in the oropharynx)


the windpipe or major airway of the respiratory system; structure is maintained by supporting rings of cartilage

function of trachea

conducts air to and from the lungs as it opens into the pharynx; filters incoming air by having a ciliated and mucus secreting epithelial lining

function of trachea (ciliated epithelial lining)

rhythmic beating of the cilia transport any particles up and out of the airway; particles conducted up to pharynx are swallowed or coughed out


cartilaginous structure at the opening of the trachea; also called the voice box; houses the vocal cords


the opening of the larynx/trachea in the laryngopharynx; described as the slit-like opening between the vocal cords

cartilage structure (epiglottis)

flap-like laryngeal cartilage that overlays the glottis that prevents food from entering the trachea during swallowing

cartilage structure (thyroid cartilage)

upper and lower cartilage of the larynx that forms the "adam's apple"

cartilage structure (cricoid cartilage)

smaller and lower band-like cartilage of the larynx

vocal cords

strands of ligaments of connective tissues covered by laryngeal epithelium in the walls of the larynx; vibrate as air passes through the larynx to produce sounds; vibrations vary with thickness and length


the major airways that continue from the trachea as it bifurcates towards the right and left lungs


major multilobed organs of the respiratory system; described as "spongy" tissue created by air sacs; incorporates the pulmonary circulation; site for carbon dioxide and oxygen exchanges

bronchial system

as each bronchus enters the lung it branches into a network of smaller and smaller tubes (bronchioles) until reaching cell level for gas exchanges with blood capillaries (air sacs)

air sacs

terminal ends of the bronchioles at the cell level; gas exchange; simple one layer


refers to wall structure of air sac in proximity to blood capillaries for gas exchange

thoracic cavity

chest cavity or thorax; includes the right and left pleural cavities that house the lungs; also includes the interpleural cavity that houses the trachea, major heart vessels, and esophagus; also includes the pericardial cavity that houses the heart


epithelial membrane that envelopes the pleural cavities; consists of a parietal and visceral component

parietal pleura

part of the pleura that lines the walls of the pleural cavities

visceral pleura

part of the pleura that unfolds to cover the surface of each lung within the pleural cavities


processes that are described on the cellular level and on the organismic level

cellular respiration

metabolic processes that involve the oxidation of glucose to produce energy in the form of ATP as well as CO2; occurs in the cell's mitochondria

organismic respiration

processes that involve the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen across cell membranes that may be defined as internal or external

internal respiration

exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide that occurs between blood capillaries and cells in the general body organs and tissues

external respiration

exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen that occurs between pulmonary blood capillaries and teh alveolar walls of air sacs in the lungs

pulmonary system

pulmonary circulation pathway between the heart and the lungs and the function of external respiration; includes the pulmonary vessels and bronchial system within the framework of the lungs

pulmonary artery

major artery that transports deoxygenated blood from the right ventricles to the lungs

pulmonary capillaries

cell level vessels derived from the incoming pulmonary artery that are associated with the air sacs; for carbon dioxide; oxygen exchange during external respiration

pulmonary vein

major vein transports oxygenated blood from the lungs to the left atrium

blood gas transport

refers to the forms in which oxygen and carbon dioxide are "carried" in the blood; approximately 5 liters of blood pass through the lungs per minute

oxygen transport

most of the oxygen transported in oxygenated blood is chemically bound to the hemoglobin in red blood cells

carbon monoxide poisoning

the gas carbon monoxide has a greater affinity for hemoglobin than oxygen and when present, will bind faster than oxygen to hemoglobin

carbon dioxide transport

most carbon dioxide is transported in the blood in the form of bicarbonate ions (HCO3-) which form through chemical blood reactions as carbon dioxide reacts with water in plasma


regulated by authonomic functions of the nervous system and chemical feedback mechanisms; involves the mechanical processes of inspiration and expiration


mechanical process by which oxygen (air) is drawn into the respiratory system through the oral and nasal cavities and directed into the air sacs of the lungs


mechanical process by which carbon dioxide and water vapor (air) are drawn out from the air sacs of the lungs and directed out through to the oral and nasal cavities

thoracic pressure

the air pressure in the thoracic cavity relative to the outside atmospheric pressure is involved in the mechanics of breathing

changes in pressure

an increase in thoracic cavity size lowers the thoracic cavity pressure and a decrease in thoracic cavity size increases the thoracic cavity pressure relative to the atmosphere; controlled by the diaphragm, intercoastral muscles, and abdominal muscles

breathing muscles

contractions and relaxation allow the thoracic cavity to change overall size


sheet of dome-shaped skeletal that separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities; contraction lowers the position of the diaphragm which increases the thoracic cavity size; relaxation returns diaphragm to its dome-shaped position which decreases the thoracic cavity size

intercostal muscles

external and internal muscles between the ribs; contract to move the position of the rib cage which affects thoracic cavity size

abdominal muscles

relaxation allows organs such as the liver and stomach to lower as the diaphragm contracts and lowers

(inspiration mechanics) thoracic cavity changes

thoracic cavity pressure must increase relative to the atmosphere pressure so that air will move inward from higher perssure (outside) to lower pressure (inside)

(inspiration mechanics) diaphragm

contracts and lowers position from its dome-shaped position to increase overall thoracic cavity size

(inspiration mechanics) intercostal muscles

intercostals contract to move rib cage upward and outward to increase thoracic cavity size

(inspiration mechanics) abdmoninal muscles

relax to allow body orgams to lower as the diaphragm lowers into the abdominal cavity

(expiration mechanics) thoracic cavity changes

thoracic cavity pressure must increase relative to the atmosphere pressure so that air will move outward from higher pressure (inside) to lower pressure (outside)

(expiration mechanics) diaphragm

relaes and resumes its upward dome-shape position to decrease the thoracic cavity size

(expiration mechanics) intercoastal muscles

intercostals relax to return rib cage inward and down to decrease the overall thoracic cavity size

(expiration mechanics) abdominal muscles

contract to hold body organs up in positions under the diaphragm

altered breathing

During activities such as singing and speaking, the breathing pattern changes. There are explosive movements of air into and out of the lungs during sneezing, coughing, and laughing. In addition, hiccups result from the involuntary spasms of the diaphragm muscle.

neutral controls

breathing is controlled by involuntary and volutnary components of the autonomic, peripheral, and central nervous systems

medulla oblongata

brain centers that regulate breathing mechanics

cerebral cortex

conscious voluntary inputs from higher centers in the cerebral cortex; allows for some volutnary control over breathing

vagus nerve

carnial nerve; transmits sensory information from the lungs and thoracic cavity to centers in the medulla oblongata

phrenic nerve

motor nerves that center the diaphragm; autonomic motor responses from the medullary centers

intercostal nerves

motor nerves that enters the intercostal muscles that control the movement of the rib cage; autnomic motor responses from medullary centers

carbon dioxide feedback

chemical receptors monitor bicarbonate levels; the medulla oblongata breathing centers receive chemical information that affects the rate of breathing; decreased breathing rate allows more carbon dioxide to remain in the blood system which faster breathing reduces carbon dioxide content

lung volume

the capacity of the lung with regard to air volume associated with breathing


instrument used to measure air volume in lungs during breathing patterns

tidal air (300-500 cc)

amount of air exchanged during normal and relaxed adult breathing

expiratory reserve (1000-2000 cc)

amount of air that can be forced out f the lungs after a normal relaxed exhalation

inspiratory reserve (1500-3000 cc)

amount of air that can be forcibly taken into the lungs after a normal relaxed inhalation

vital capacity (2500-6000 cc)

sum total air volume of tidal air and expiratory reserves

residual air (1000-1500 cc)

volume of air that cannot be exhaled; remains in the lungs after all forced exhalation


hypernea; forced breathing or involuntary increase in the rate and/or depth of breathing which may be due to excessive CO2 in the blood or a deficiency of CO2 also described as abnormal "rapid breathing"


condition related to a lack of oxygen, may also be referred as hypoxia; may be local or systemic; may result from inadequate supply of oxygen to respiratory system or the inability of blood to carry oxygen to tissues


condition characterized by a "bluish" coloration of the skin and mucous membranes due to an excessive amount of deoxygenated blood in blood vessels of the skin


infection of the lungs from bacteria, virus, chemical pollutant, or physical gent that results in inflammation of alveoli and pooling of fluids in spaces normally filled with air


condition in which there is difficulty in breathing, labored breathing, or uncomfortable breathing; alsodescribed as shortness of breath that may be caused by anxiety, stress, or heart condition


condition of inflammation of the epithelial lining of the nasal passages usually accompanied by swelling and nasal discharge


repiratory condition in which alveolar walls lose elasticity, decreased gas capacity and eventual destrution of the air sacs; may be associated with bronchial infection or inflammation


swelling of repiratory tract due to allergen


swelling of bronchial tube due to allergen, infection, viral infection

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