What happens when we breathe and how does breathing work?

Professor Hallux investigates!

The respiratory system does many important jobs in our bodies!

Respiration is another word for breathing and the ‘respiratory system’ is basically a bunch of organs related to breathing.

Lungs are an obvious organ but your nose, larynx, and diaphragm also form part of the respiratory system.

Job number one is inhalation, or drawing air in to the lungs.

Our brains send messages to the diaphragm – that’s a muscle under our lungs – telling it to move downwards. As it moves, air is pulled in.

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When air has been drawn into the lungs, oxygen is absorbed into red blood cells who carry it to all the different parts of the body.

When the cells are depleted of oxygen, they return to the lungs carrying the waste product of carbon dioxide.

Of course, the air we breathe is a mixture of gases – not just oxygen. The lungs are clever and only extract oxygen leaving other gasses behind.

The third function of the respiratory system is exhalation. That’s where we push all of those unwanted gases out of the lungs.

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Professor Hallux’s More Physiology Fix-Up, with support from The Physiological Society!

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