Our Marvelous Bodies: An Introduction to the Physiology of Human Health

By Gary F. Merrill | Go to book overview

5
Health and the Respiratory System

Breathing in the human includes both ventilation and respiration. The rib cage, diaphragm, and intercostal muscles constitute a bellows-like system in which the lungs are found. Neurogenically controlled movements of the thoracic cavity cause the expansions and contractions of the lung that respiratory physiologists call ventilation. During the inspiratory and expiratory phases of each respiratory cycle, atmospheric air moves into and out of the lungs in a rhythm that is analogous to the flow of ocean tides. In both cases, air and water flow over the same path during each cycle. Because of this analogy, respiratory physiologists, pulmonologists, and respiratory therapists call the cyclic flow of air in and out of the lungs the tidal volume. The number of respiratory cycles in a minute multiplied by the tidal volume is called the minute ventilation.

Respiration concerns the fate of the gases that are carried in and out of the lungs with each tidal volume. The primary respiratory gases are oxygen and carbon dioxide. The mechanisms by which these gases get from the lungs to the tissues, and from the tissues to the lungs, respiratory physiologists call external respiration. It involves mainly the exchange and transport of gases between lungs and blood and between blood and tissues. Biochemists call the mechanisms by which oxygen gets used by the cells tissue or internal respiration. This involves use of oxygen by mitochondria and the processes of electron transfer. Therefore, to fully understand the human respiratory system, the student must grasp the physiological concepts of ventilation, gaseous exchange and transport, and uptake and release of gases by cells and subcellular organelles such as the mitochondria.

The human respiratory system serves both respiratory and nonrespiratory purposes. Physiologically, the respiratory system delivers fresh ambient air to the blood and releases gaseous metabolic by-products to the atmosphere. The physiologically important ingredient of fresh ambient air is oxygen. The significant gaseous component released to the atmosphere is carbon dioxide. Nitrogen,

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Our Marvelous Bodies: An Introduction to the Physiology of Human Health
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Figures ix
  • List of Tables xi
  • Preface xiii
  • 1: The Foundation 1
  • 2: Understanding the Mammalian Nervous Ystem 18
  • 3: The Endocrine System and Physiological Communication 35
  • 4: The Cardiovascular System and the Blood 53
  • 5: Health and the Respiratory System 76
  • 6: Kidneys and Renal Physiology 94
  • 7: The Gastrointestinal System 109
  • 8: The Reproductive System 128
  • 9: The Immune System 138
  • 10: Muscle Function 151
  • 11: Integrated Physiological Responses 162
  • 12: For the Record 170
  • Glossary 185
  • Notes and Suggested Reading 199
  • Index 209
  • About the Author 221
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