Explain the relationship between the function and structure of the various components of the respiratory system.

Quick answer:

All of the organs of the respiratory system are closely connected to each other both in function and in structure. Together, they form a subsystem called the respiratory tract, in which the process of respiration takes place and air is transferred in and out the body.

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The respiratory tract consists of several organs which facilitate the process of breathing and the process of respiration or gas exchange. All respiratory organs as well as some muscular structures function together to make breathing possible, while the process of respiration can only occur in the lungs. You can find more detailed information about the structure, anatomy and function of the respiratory tract and the respiratory system here.

The nasal cavity is basically the inside of the nose. The main function of the nasal cavity is to filter the air that we inhale in order to prevent harmful particle from entering the lungs.

The pharynx or commonly known as the throat is a tube that connects the nasal cavity to the larynx and esophagus, which is why the pharynx is considered to be a part of the digestive system as well.

The larynx or the voice box is located between the pharynx and the trachea. The main function of the larynx is to protect the lower airways, as well as to produce sound.

The trachea or the windpipe is a respiratory organ which connects the larynx to the bronchi of the lungs; the trachea transports air in and out of the lungs.

The fluid-filled space between the parietal and visceral pleura that surrounds the lungs is called pleural space or pleural cavity. The pleural membrane is a thin mucus membrane that lines the pleural cavity.

The bronchi are tubes which connect the trachea to the lungs and therefore conduct air into the lungs. The bronchioles are small tubes which branch off from the bronchi or the main airways and connect the bronchi to the alveoli. The alveoli are tiny air-filled cavities where the process of respiration or gas exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide happens; there are nearly 600 million alveoli located in the lungs.

The lungs are the largest respiratory organs located within the rib cage, in the chest cavity or the thorax. The main function of the lungs is to transfer oxygen into the blood stream (inhalation) and get rid of carbon dioxide (exhalation).

The intercostal muscles are a group of muscles located between the ribs that contract and expand the rib cage in order to enable breathing.

Finally, the diaphragm is a skeletal muscle located below the lungs and above the abdomen, which contracts when we inhale and relaxes when we exhale.

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