The respiratory system is made up of a
number of parts that start at the mouth and the nose and end with the
alveoli in our lungs, where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged with
the capillaries in the vascular system. When we breathe, the air enters our
mouth and/or nose, passes through the nasal passages and the pharynx, down
the larynx and the trachea to the lungs. The trachea splits near the bottom
into the primary bronchi, which enter the lungs. The primary bronchi then divide
into the secondary bronchi, which divide more into bronchioles which keep
dividing into alveolar ducts which finally contain the alveoli.
There are many medical conditions that can
affect the respiratory system and how we breathe, from the common cold all
the way to lung cancer. Some are caused by common viral infections such as
the flu or respiratory syncytial virus, which is known as RSV. Others are
the result of chronic conditions such as asthma, allergies and cystic
fibrosis. Treatment depends on the nature of the respiratory illness, and
can range from medication to surgery.
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