CHOC Children's
RESPIRATORY DISORDERS

Anatomy of the Respiratory System

Anatomy of the respiratory system, child
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What is respiration?

Respiration is the act of breathing:

  • inhaling (inspiration) - taking in oxygen.
  • exhaling (expiration) - giving off carbon dioxide.

What makes up the respiratory system?

The respiratory system is made up of the organs involved in the interchanges of gases, and consists of the:

  • nose
  • pharynx
  • larynx
  • trachea
  • bronchi
  • lungs

The upper respiratory tract includes the following:

  • nose
  • nasal cavity
  • sinuses
    • ethmoid
    • frontal
    • maxillary
    • sphenoid
  • larynx
  • trachea

The lower respiratory tract includes the following:

  • lungs
  • airways (bronchi and bronchioles)
  • air sacs (alveoli)

What is the function of the lungs?

The lungs take in oxygen, which cells need to live and carry out their normal functions. The lungs also get rid of carbon dioxide, a waste product of the body's cells.

The lungs are a pair of cone-shaped organs made up of spongy, pinkish-gray tissue. They take up most of the space in the chest, or the thorax (the part of the body between the base of the neck and diaphragm).

The lungs are enveloped in a membrane called the pleura.

The lungs are separated from each other by the mediastinum, an area that contains the following:

  • heart and its large vessels
  • trachea (windpipe)
  • esophagus
  • thymus
  • lymph nodes

The right lung has three sections, called lobes. The left lung has two lobes. When you breathe, the air:

  • enters the body through the nose or the mouth.
  • travels down the throat through the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe).
  • goes into the lungs through tubes called main-stem bronchi.
    • one main-stem bronchus leads to the right lung and one to the left lung
    • in the lungs, the main-stem bronchi divide into smaller bronchi
    • and then into even smaller tubes called bronchioles
    • bronchioles end in tiny air sacs called alveoli

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Online Resources of Respiratory Disorders

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It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.

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