You are on page 1of 5

Structure of the respiratory system

This system is responsible for providing the oxygen for the body and removing
the carbon dioxide from the body. In the body oxygen is required for every cell
in your body.
Air needed for body is usually drawn into the body through the nose but
sometimes it comes through the mouth, and passes through a network of
airways to reach the lungs. The network of airways is called the respiratory
tract and is divided into two main parts. They are referred as the upper
respiratory tract, which includes such things as the nose, nasal cavity, mouth
pharynx and the larynx.
The other is the lower respiratory tract, which consists of the trachea, bronchi
and lungs.
For example for the upper respiratory tract we have the Nasal cavity.

Nasal cavity
Overall the nose is divided the external nose and the internal nasal cavity.
Once breathing the air enters the cavity by passing through the nostrils. Inside
the nose hairs filter out dust, pollen and other foreign particles.
Then the air passes into two passages and this is where the air warmed and
moistened and passes into the nasopharynx. This is a sticky mucous where
layers trap smaller foreign particles and which cilia which are tiny cells
transport the pharynx to be swallowed.


This is a small flap of cartilage at the back of the tongue. This closes the top
of the trachea when you swallow to ensure food and drink pass into your


This is a funnel shape, which connects to the nasal cavity and mouth to the
larynx and oesophagus. This is a small tube that measures the skull to the
level of the sixth cervical vertebrae. It is composed of the skeletal muscle. It’s
the passageway for food as well as air, so certain requirements are required
to prevent choking when food or anything else is swallowed.


This is the voice box of the throat .It has rigid walls of the muscle and cartilage
which contains the vocal cords and connect the pharynx to the trachea. A lot
of it extends for about 5 cm from the level of the third to sixth vertebrae.


This is located in the lower respiratory tract. It is commonly known as the

trachea and the windpipe. It contains rings of cartilage to prevent it from
collapsing and it is very flexible. The trachea travels down the neck in front of
the oesophagus and branches into the right and left bronchi.


The right and left division of the trachea forms these. It carries air out of the
lungs. The right is shorter and wider than the left and is a more common site
the air once it has reached the bronchi it becomes warm and clear. Once
inside the bronchus they are then each subdivided. Three on the right and two
on the left. The lobar bronchi branch into segmental bronchi, which is then
divided into smaller and smaller bronchi.
There are approximately 23 orders of branching bronchial airways in the
lungs. This is due to the branching pattern .The network in the lungs is known
as the bronchial tree.

These are small airways that extend from the bronchi. They are about 1mm in
diameter and are the first airway branches of the respiratory system. They
end in clusters of thin walled air sacs, which are known as alveoli.

Google images.


These are paired right and left lung, which are occupying most of the thoracic
cavity. They extend down to the diaphragm. The left lung is smaller than the

Each lung is divided into lobes. The right lung has three lobes and the left has

Pleural membrane and cavity

Membranes known as pleura surround these lungs. It contains a cavity with

fluid that lubricates the surfaces of the pleural and expands and contract,
which prevents friction and keeping them airtight.

Thoracic cavity

In the wall it is the chamber of the chest that protects the thoracic wall. It is
separated from the abdominal cavity by the diaphragm.

Visceral pleura

This is the innermost of the two pleural membranes. It covers the surface of
the lung and dips into the spaces between the lobes.

Pleural Fluid

These produce pleural fluid, which fill the space between them. The
lubricating fluid allows the lungs to glide easily over the thoracic wall during
the respiration stage. During this period the separation is resisted by the
surface tension of the fluid and keeps the surface in contact with the chest


This is the name given to the air sacs or bronchioles. A dense network of
capillaries surrounds the alveoli to facilitate this process. With each other the
alveolar and capillary walls form the respiratory membrane that has gas on
one side and blood flowing past on the other. Oxygen passes from the alveoli
into the blood and carbon dioxide leaves the blood to enter the alveoli.
Google images.


This separates the chest from the abdomen. This is the most important
muscle involved in breathing. It contracts the diaphragm and increases the
volume of the chest cavity. While relaxation it involves recoil of the diaphragm
and decreases the volume of the chest cavity.

Internal and intercostals muscles

These lie between the ribs. These help with the inhalation and exhalation.
The internal intercostals muscles lie inside the ribcage. The ribs move
downward and inwards decreasing the volume of the chest cavity and forcing
air out of the lungs.

The external intercostals muscles lie outside the ribcage. It pulls the robs
upwards and outwards, increasing the volume of the chest cavity and drawing
air into the lungs during respiration.