Explain the process of breathing in man.
Breathing or the process of taking in fresh air and releasing foul air can be easily observed because thorax shows alternate expansion and
contraction. It is involuntary though it can be prevented for a brief period. Rate of breathing is controlled by respiratory centre of brain. Expansion
of thorax causes fresh air to be drawn in. Contraction of thorax causes foul air to be expelled. Therefore, breathing consists of two steps,
inspiration and expiration.
- Inspiration or Inhalation: It is bringing of fresh air into lungs for exchange of gases. During inhalation, thoracic cavity enlarges due to two types of inspiratory muscles, phrenic and external intercostals. Phrenic muscles straighten the diaphragm by moving its curved part downwards. It increases length of thorax. Contraction of external intercostal muscles pushes the rib cage in outward and upward direction. It increases girth of thorax. Being air tight, increase in size of thoracic cavity causes expansion of lungs. It decreases air pressure in the lungs. As a result outside air rushes into lungs through external nostrils, nasal cavities, internal nostrils, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, bronchioles to alveoli. While passing through respiratory tract, the incoming air is :
- Filtered by hair present in anterior part of nasal cavities.
- Cleansed of dust and microbes throughout respiratory tract by lysozyme, mucus and cilia.
- Air conditioned (bringing temperature of inhaled air to that of body) with the help of blood capillaries present below nasal epithelium.
- Moistened by water vapours from wet epithelium.
- Exchange of Gases: It occurs in the alveoli. Fresh air has high concentration of oxygen and a very low concentration of carbon dioxide. As a result, oxygen diffuses from alveolar air to blood present in capillaries around the alveoli. Carbon dioxide diffuses from blood into alveolar air.