3 Respiratory System

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3 Respiratory System Powered By Docstoc

The respiratory system is the breathing system. In the respiratory system
air is inhaled (breathed in) and exhaled (breathed out). Oxygen is
absorbed into the blood stream and carbon dioxide is taken out.

The respiratory system supplies oxygen to the body and excretes carbon dioxide.
The pathway of inspiration starts with air entering the mouth or nose and passing
down through the pharynx, larynx and on into the trachea (windpipe). From the
trachea the air travels into the two main bronchi which pass into the lungs. Once
air enters the bronchi it ventures off into microscopically small bronchioles and
then into minutely small air sacs referred to as alveoli.

The diaphragm assists with both inspiration and expiration with its bellows like

Activity 1

Place your hands on your diaphragm, just below your ribs. Take slow, deep breaths in and out.
Follow the feeling of the air flowing in through your nostrils and down into your throat. Feel your
lungs expanding and contracting under your hands. Place your hand gently on the front of your
neck and hum. Feeling the voice box or larynx vibrating as the air passes through your vocal

There are two major parts of the respiratory tract

1. The upper respiratory tract, which includes the:
   nose
   pharynx (throat)
   larynx (voice box)
   trachea (windpipe)
   bronchi and bronchioles (the air tubes in the lungs)

2. The lower respiratory system, which includes the
   lungs
   alveoli (the air sacs in the lungs where gas exchange takes place)
   pleura (the membrane surrounding the lungs)
   diaphragm (the muscle under the lungs that assists with breathing)


Air passes through the nostrils, into the nasal cavity and then into nasopharynx (where the nose
joins the throat). The nose is divided by the nasal septum. Inhaled air is filtered by the hairs in
the nasal cavity and is moistened and warmed.

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Organ          Root         Combining form        Example       Meaning

Nose           Rhin         Rhin/o                Rhinoplasty   Surgical repair of the

Nose           Nas          Nas/o                 Nasal         Relating to the nose

Activity 2

What do the following words mean?

        Word                   Meaning

1       Rhinopathy

2       Nasogastric

3       Nasoseptal

4       Rhinitis


The pharynx or the throat has three major parts

1. The nasopharynx (where the nasal cavity joins the throat)

2. The oropharynx (where the mouth - the oral cavity - joins the throat)

3. The laryngopharnyx (where the pharynx joins the larynx or voice box)

Organ          Root         Combining form        Example       Meaning

Pharynx        Pharyng      Pharyng/o             Pharyngeal    Relating to the throat or
(Throat)                                                        pharynx

                                                  Pharyngitis   Inflammation of the throat
                                                                or pharynx

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Activity 3

Using the appropriate word parts, construct a word that means

          Meaning                                                 Word

1         Relating to the throat and nose (use nas/o)

2         Inflammation to the throat and nose (use nas/o)

3         An instrument to view or examine the pharynx

4         Surgical incision into the throat


The larynx or the voice box sits below the pharynx. It contains the vocal chords and the
epiglottis, a lid-like piece of cartilage that prevents food from entering the trachea.

Organ            Root           Combining form     Example            Meaning

Larynx           laryng         laryng/o           laryngeal          Relating to the larynx or
(voice box)                                                           voice box

                                                   laryngectomy Excision of the larynx

New            Meaning                                      Example

-plasty        surgical repair or reconstruction            Laryngoplasty – surgical repair or
                                                            reconstruction of the larynx

-scope         an instrument to view or examine             Laryngoscope

-spasm         A sudden involuntary contraction of Laryngospasm – spasm of the
               smooth muscle (a spasm)             larynx

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Activity 4

Give the meaning of the following words

        Word                  Meaning

1       Laryngalgia

2       Laryngectomy

3       Laryngeal

4       laryngopharyngitis


The trachea, or windpipe, is a smooth, muscular, tube that carries air to the lungs. Rings of
cartilage stop this tube from collapsing.

Organ          Root          Combining form    Example        Meaning

Trachea        trache        Trache/o          tracheal       Relating to the trachea

                                               tracheostomy Opening from the trachea
                                                            to the body surface

Activity 5

Write the meanings of the following words

        Word                  Meaning

1       Tracheitis

2       Tracheostomy

3       Tracheolaryngeal

4       Tracheotomy

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Bronchial tree

The trachea divides into two main braches called right and left bronchi (singular = bronchus).
These bronchi enter the right and left lungs. This forms a structure like an upside down tree,
where the trachea is the trunk and the bronchi form the main braches. These bronchi divide and
subdivide into smaller bronchial tubes and eventually into the smallest tubes called the
bronchioles. Each bronchiole ends with the alveoli (air sacs) where the gas exchange takes
place with oxygen entering the blood stream and carbon dioxide leaving the blood stream to be

Organ          Root        Combining form      Example            Meaning

Bronchus       bronch      bronch/o            bronchoplasty      Surgical repair of the
                           bronch/i            bronchial          Relating to the bronchi

Activity 6

Create a word to mean

          Meaning (use bronch/o)                               Word

1         Study of the bronchi

2         A spasm of the bronchus

3         Pertaining to the bronchus

4         Disease of the bronchi


The lungs are the main organs of respiration. They are made of light, spongy, elastic tissue.
They inflate with the inhalation or inspiration of air and deflate with exhalation or expiration.

The right lung has 3 lobes and the left lung has 2 lobes, leaving room for the heart. Each lobe is
divided into smaller segments.

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Organ           Root        Combining form Example                 Meaning

Lung/s          pneumon     Pneumon/o           pneumonopathy Disease of the lungs

                pulmon      Pulmon/o            pulmonary          Relating to the lung

Activity 7

Give the meanings of the following words

         Word                         Meaning
1        Pneumonectomy
2        Pneumonia
3        Pneumatic
4        Pneumothorax


The pleura is a double layered membrane, a bit like a plastic bag, which protectively covers each
lung. It helps prevent the lungs from rubbing against the ribs.

Organ           Root        Combining form Example                 Meaning
                                                pleural            Relating to the pleura
Pleura          Pleur       Pleur/o
                                                pneumonopathy Disease of the lungs

New           Meaning                           Example
                                                Amniocentesis (puncture of the amnionic
              A surgical puncture, usually to
-centesis                                       sac surrounding the foetus, to remove
              removal fluid
                                                amniotic fluid for analysis)

Activity 8

Build a word to fit the following meanings

         Meaning                                      Word
         Surgical puncture of the pleura to remove
2        Inflammation of the bronchi and pleura

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The diaphragm is called the muscle of respiration. It sits under the lungs and assists in the
process of breathing. By contracting and relaxing it causes the lungs and chest to move up and

Organ          Root     Combining form      Example            Meaning
                                            phrenic            Relating to the diaphragm
Diaphragm      Phren    phren/o                                Person who specialises in the
                                                               study of the diaphragm

Activity 9

Create a word to mean

         Meaning                                           Word
         An instrument used to record the movements
         of the diaphragm
2        Pain in the diaphragm

New Word Roots                    Meaning
Pneum/o                           air
Py/o                              Pus
Hydr/o                            Water
Thorac/o, -thorax                 Chest cavity
Haem/o                            blood

Activity 10

Read the following paragraph and rewrite it using lay terms.

Dear Dr Hibbard,

Mrs Robinson saw me last week complaining of a two-week history of pharyngalgia and
rhinorrhoea. I performed a nasopharyngoscopy and observed she was suffering from acute
nasopharyngolaryngitis. I prescribed her antibiotics and asked her to return in one week. On
examination today, Mrs Robinson has moderate dyspnoea, wheezing and severe pain on
inspiration. I have made a diagnosis of pneumonia and am sending her to you for admission
to hospital and IV antibiotic therapy.

Yours sincerely,

Dr White
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Diseases and disorders of the respiratory tract

There are many types of respiratory diseases that feature symptoms of inflammation.
Inflammation in the respiratory system occurs in the mucous membranes that line the airways –
the trachea and the bronchi.

Disease or disorder           Definition
Apnoea                        Temporary cessation (stopping) of breathing
                              Airways disease involving inflammation, muscle spasm and
                              increased mucous production
Bronchiectasis                Widening of the bronchi or branches
Bronchitis                    Inflammation of the lining of the trachea and bronchial tubes
Bronchospasm                  Bronchus narrows, going into spasms
Chronic obstructive           When the lungs become scarred and lose their elasticity due to
pulmonary disease             smoking
Cyanosis                      Bluish discolouration of the skin
Cystic fibrosis               An hereditary disease which causes increased mucus production
Dysphagia                     Painful or difficulty in swallowing
Dyspnoea                      Difficult or painful breathing
                              Loss of elasticity of the lung tissue and decreased gas exchange
                              due to the alveoli being enlarged or damaged.
Empyema                       Pus in the pleural cavity
Epiglottitis                  Inflammation of the epiglottis
Epistaxis                     Nosebleed
                              Act of spitting out material bought into the mouth by

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                           Unstable rib cage following multiple fractures of ribs and
Flail chest
                           sternum can lead to asphyxia
Influenza                  Highly contagious viral infection
Laryngitis                 Inflammation of the larynx
                           Condition characterised by attacks of breathing difficulty
                           and stridor in small children
Laryngotracheobronchitis   Severe, viral infection of respiratory tract
                           Inflammation of the lungs caused by Legionella
Legionnaires disease
Oedema                     Excessive accumulation of fluid in the body tissues
Orthopnoea                 Difficulty breathing unless sitting upright (straight up)
Paroxysmal atelectasis     Failure of part of the lung to expand
Pharyngitis                Inflammation of the throat
Pleuritis                  Inflammation of the pleura
Pneumonia                  Infection of the lung
Pneumothorax               Air in the thoracic cavity
Pulmonary embolism         Obstruction of blood vessels in the lungs by a clot
Pulmonary emphysema        Air in tissues of the lungs
Rales                      Abnormal lung sounds
Rhinitis                   Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose
Rhonchus                   Noise produced by air passing through bronchi
Sinusitis                  Inflammation of the sinuses
Sleep apnoea               Cessation of breathing during sleep
Somnolence                 Sleepiness
Tonsillitis                Inflammation of the tonsils

Tuberculosis               An infectious disease of the lung
                           Whistling sound that is heard when the bronchi become inflamed
                           and constricted

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Terms and Word Parts:

antr/o                  antrum
bronchioles             small subdivision of bronchi (P)
bronchus (S)            one of the two tubes carrying air to the lungs
glottis                 vocal cords and the space between
laryng/o                larynx (voice box)
lingu/a/o               tongue
maxill/o                maxilla (upper jawbone)
nas/o                   nose
pharyng/o               pharynx (throat)
-phasia                 speech
phon/o                  sound or voice
pleur/o                 pleural membranes /rib/ side
pneum/a/o               gas / air, also lung / breath
-pnoea                  breathing
pulm/o                  lung
rhin/o                  nose
somn/i/o                sleep
spir/o                  to breathe
steth/o                 chest / breast
thorac/o                thorax (the chest)
trache/o                trachea (the windpipe)


COAD /COPD              chronic obstructive airways disease (pulmonary)
CAL                     chronic airway limitation
CPAP                    continuous positive airway pressure
ENT                     ear, nose and throat
LRT                     lower respiratory tract
LRTI                    lower respiratory tract infection
SOB                     short of breath
URT                     upper respiratory tract
URTI                    upper respiratory tract infection

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Antrectomy                          Removal of an antrum
Bronchoscopy                        Looking into the bronchi or trachea
Laryngoscopy                        Looking into the larynx
Laryngotomy                         Incision into the larynx
Rhinoplasty                         Repair or correction of the nose
Thoracotomy                         Incision into the chest cavity
                                    Surgical opening into the trachea so a tube can be inserted
Tracheostomy                        to provide an airway if the trachea is blocked, damaged or
                                    there is a need for long term ventilation.
Turbinectomy                        Removal of one of the bones forming the cavity of the nose
Turbinotomy                         Incision into one of the bones forming the cavity of the nose

Activity 11

1.       Apnoea means

     a    not sleeping
     b    deflation of the lungs
     c    not breathing
     d    cot death

2.       Bronchitis is?

     a    inflammation of the lung
     b    severe coughing
     c    asthma
     d    inflammation of the bronchial tubes

3.       What is the name for air in the chest cavity? _______________________________

4.       What is the name of the instrument used to view the bronchi? __________________

5.       The process of measuring someone’s breathing is called what? ________________

6.       The membranes surrounding the lungs are called the?         _____________________

7.       The thoracic cavity and the abdominal cavity are separated by the? _____________

8.       A new opening into the trachea is called a? ________________________________

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9.   What is the medical term for a nosebleed?     ________________________________

10. Dyspnoea means difficult, painful      ______________________________________

11. What is the meaning of the abbreviation URTI? _____________________________

12. Circle the correct medical term for the following definitions:

Definition                                    Term 1            or   Term 2
X-ray of the bronchus                is       bronchoplasty          bronchogram
Removal of a lung                    is       lungectomy             pneumonectomy
A disease of the lung                is       pneumophonia           pneumonia
Incision into a lobe                 is       cophotomy              lobotomy
Removal of a lobe                    is       lobectomy              laryngectomy
Inflammation of the lung             is       lungitis               pneumonitis
Incision into the chest              is       thoracotomy            roofectomy

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