What Are the Functions of Respiratory System?








What is the function of respiratory system? When you breathe in and out, your respiratory system is working. The respiratory system if made up of various organs that allow you to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. If you don’t have oxygen, and you can’t get rid of carbon dioxide, your body can’t live for longer than a few minutes. Which organs make up the respiratory system? What are the functions of the respiratory system?

What Are the Components of the Respiratory System?

The respiratory system is made up of several organs that work in tandem to help you breathe. If something goes wrong with one of these organs, then the rest of them don’t work as well. The list below includes the various components of your respiratory system.

Major Organs

Nose, mouth, larynx, pharynx, trachea, lungs, bronchi

Upper Respiratory Tract

The nose, nasal cavity, sinuses (ethmoid, frontal, maxillary, and sphenoid). Larnyx and trachea.

Lower Respiratory Tract

The lungs, airways (bronchi and bronchioles), and air sacs, or alveoli.

What Is the Function of the Respiratory System?

Each part of your body works together seamlessly to create the breathing that you need to survive. Here are the functions of the respiratory system and how each organ works in tandem with the rest to create seamless, effortless breathing.

1. Breathing-Inhalation and Exhalation

The Act of Breathing:

When you inhale air through your nose or mouth, it goes straight to the trachea, or windpipe. Just below that, the trachea divided into several tubes known as bronchial tubes. The air you breathe goes into these, then into bronchioles in the lungs, which are even smaller tubes. The air then fills little sacs in the lungs, called alveoli. There are over 300 million of these in the typical human body.

The alveoli are surrounded by tiny blood vessels. These blood vessels suck the oxygen out of the air you have just taken in and send it to the blood, where it goes to the heart, where it is then pumped around your body to give your cells the oxygen they need.

As this happens, carbon dioxide is formed. The blood carries that back to your lungs, where the process reverses. When you breathe out, you are exhaling the carbon dioxide that was created inside your body. With each breath, the process continues.

Role of Diaphragm in Breathing:

One of the most important components of your body is the diaphragm. This is a large muscle shaped like a dome that sits right underneath your lungs. When you take a breath, the diaphragm pushes downward, creating a vacuum that then sucks the air into your lungs. When you exhale, the diaphragm pushes upward and outward, forcing the carbon dioxide from your body. An injury to the diaphragm can make it difficult to breathe, even if there is nothing wrong with the rest of your respiratory system.

2. Clearing the Air

The respiratory system also plays defense for you. The nose is filled with tiny hairs that filter out large particles. These hairs are also found among the air passages, where they move back and forth to “sweep” the air clean. The mucus produced in your respiratory system works to trap foreign invaders, such as bacteria, and prevent it from going deeper into your body. Finally, the things that do get past these defense systems can be coughed up from the lungs and expelled.

This video is a great introduction to the respiratory system:

What Are Major Diseases of the Respiratory System?

Keep in mind that not everything that tries to invade your body is stopped by the respiratory system. Several diseases and other bad conditions can be caused by inhaling things such as chemicals, cigarette smoke and allergens. Some people might develop respiratory problems as a result of these environmental factors, but some problems can occur thanks to genetics. The following problems are some of the more common respiratory issues.




Inflammation of the bronchi and bronchioles can lead to narrowing of the airways, and that makes it tough to breathe. Triggers for asthma include cleaning products, allergies, fumes, cigarette smoke, cold air, medications, chemicals and more.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

This disease is caused by three conditions: emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma. This can be caused by environmental factors but might also have a genetic component. The three conditions progress, making it increasingly difficult to breathe.

Lung Cancer

Though lung cancer is known to be caused by cigarette smoke, sometimes those who have never smoked or been exposed to it can develop lung cancer. As with any other type of cancer, lung cancer is an overgrowth of abnormal cells.

Other Diseases

Many other diseases can affect the respiratory system.

Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs, while bronchitis is an infection in the bronchial tubes.

Recurrent infection can lead to bronchietasis, a widening and destroying of the airways.

Tuberculosis is a disease that gradually destroys the lungs and other parts of the body.

Some very common diseases include tonsillitis, or the inflammation of the tonsils, and the common flu, which comes into your body through your mouth and nose.

Understanding what is the function of respiratory system can help you recognize when there is a problem. Breathing should always be easy and gentle, not labored. If it is labored, or if you feel short of breath or unable to take a deep breath, it’s time to go to the doctor.

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