by • 26/07/2011 • Old Pattern Biology NotesComments (0)498


In humans, there is very efficient respiratory system. It consists of certain organs which are called respiratory organs these include nose, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi and bronchioles.

·        Nose:

The air enters through the external nostrils into the nasal cavity. This is lined with mucous secreting epithelium and ciliated epithelium. The nostrils are lined with hairs. The nasal cavities, located above the oral cavity and behind the nose are covered with epithelial tissue.

The beating of cilia creates a current in the mucus that carries the trapped particles towards the back of the nasal cavity. From here the mucus drips into the throat and is swallowed. Mucus keeps the nasal cavities moist. Bones of the nose warm up the air. Mucus moistens the air. Hair filters the air and stops the dust particles bacteria and any other foreign substance from going to next part of respiratory system. In this way air is purified and is then pushed into the pharynx.

A number of cavities called sinuses open into the nasal cavity. The sinuses are lined with mucus secreting epithelium. The opening of sinuses into the nasal cavity is very narrow. If these openings are closed due to cold or inflammation, the sinuses get filled up with mucus this results in headache and changed voice.

·        Pharynx:

The nasal cavity opens into the pharynx (throat) through two small apertures which are called internal nares or internal nostrils. The pharynx is muscular passage which extend from behind the nasal cavities to the opening of oesophagus and larynx. The air goes from the pharynx into the larynx.

·        Larynx:

The upper most part of the wind pipe (trachea) is called the larynx. The larynx is a cartilaginous box. Two fibrous bands called vocal cords are located in this box. These vibrate to produce sound. Larynx is, also called sound box or voice box. The air enters the larynx through a small aperture called glottis which is guarded by a muscular flap called epiglotis which fits into this opening while the food is being swallowed into the oesophagus. It prevents the food from entering into the trachea and choking it. During breathing epiglottis keeps the glottis open so that air goes to trachea.

·        Trachea:

The air tube (wind pipe) is known as trachea. It is about 12 cm long and lies in front of the oesophagus. It has incomplete C shaped cartilagenous rings which are regularly placed in its wall and all along its length. These rings prevent the collapsing of the tube nd thus keep the air passage wide open all the time. Trachea is also lined with ciliated mucous epithelium. Any foreign particles present in the inhaling air get trapped in the mucous that is moved out of the trachea by breathing of the cilia in the upward direction. In trachea air is further cleansed and filtered and then moved towards the lungs.

·        Bronchi:

The trachea while passing the chest cavity divides into two smaller tubes which are called bronchi (single bronchus). Bronchi are similar in structure to the trachea but are smaller in diameter and they have in their walls small irregular catilageuous plates. Each bronchus enters into the lungs of its own side. The right bronchus divides into three secondary bronchi and the left bronchus divides into two secondary bronchi which serve the 3 right and 2 left lobes of the lungs respectively.

·        Bronchioles:

The secondary bronchi further divide into very fine branches until they end in thousands of passage ways called respiratory bronchioles. The bronchioles have not cartilaginous plates in their walls. They have smooth muscle and elastic fibers.

·        Alveoli:

The walls of the respiratory bronchioles have clusters of tiny branches(like bunches of grapes) that along with the respiratory bronchioles re the sites of gaseous exchange, these pouches or air sacs are called alveoli (singular: alveolus). The alveoli are enormous in number. Each lung has about three hundred million alveoli.

Pulmonary artery brings deoxygenated blood from the heart into the lung. Here, it divides and re-divides until it forms a network of fine capillaries over the wall of each alveolus. The walls of alveoli are very thin (1/1000 mm thick) and moist. Thus, alveoli are efficient site for gaseous exchange.

·        The Lungs:

There is a pair of lungs present in the chest in man. Actually, the masses of alveoli constitute lungs and their lobes. The lungs re protected by the chest box from sides and by a doem shaped muscular diaphragm from below. Chest box or ribcage is made up of ribs. Between the ribs, there are present inter-costal muscles. The diaphragm is a muscular sheet which partitions the chest and abdomen.

The two lungs re covered by a double layered membrane called pleural membrane. There is a thin film of fluid in between the two layers. This watery fluid makes the movements of the lungs (expansion and contraction) easy. It also protects the lungs from external injuries.


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