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Respiration is one of the metabolic processes which play an

essential role in all living organisms. When we breathe, we inhale oxygen and
exhale carbon dioxide. The so-called exchange of gases is necessary for
respiration and which can be considered as a chemical process.

Breathing is the process of taking in oxygen and giving out carbon-dioxide.

Respiration is a catabolic process of breakdown of energy rich molecules to
produce energy needed for the survival of the organism.

The human respiratory system consists of the following parts:

External nostrils – For the intake of air.

Nasal chamber – which is lined with hair and mucus to filter the air and remove
dust and dirt.

Pharynx – It is a passage behind the nasal chamber and serves as the common
passageway for both air and food.

Larynx – Also known as the sound box as it helps in the generation of sound and
thus helps us in communicating.

Epiglottis – It is a flap-like structure that covers the glottis and prevents the entry
of food into the windpipe.

Trachea – It is a long tube passing through the mid-thoracic cavity.

Bronchi – The trachea divides into left and right bronchi.

Bronchioles – Each bronchus is further divided into finer channels known as


Alveoli – The bronchioles end up into the balloon-like structures known as the

Lungs – We have a pair of lungs, which are sac-like structures and covered by a
double-layered membrane known as pleura.

The nose possesses a couple of exterior nostrils which are divided by a framework
of cartilaginous structure termed as the septum. Tiny hair follicles cover the
interior lining of nostrils.


Two cartilaginous chords lay the framework for the larynx. They are situated at the
point of joining of the pharynx and trachea. It is also termed as Adam’s apple or
the voice box. It is the portion which rises and falls during swallowing of food
molecules. It generates sound as air passes through the hollow in the middle.


The nasal chambers open up into a wide void termed as pharynx. It is a common
path for both air and food. It functions by preventing the entry of food molecules
into the windpipe. The epiglottis is an elastic cartilage which serves as a switch
between the larynx and the esophagus by allowing the passage of air into the
airway to the lungs and food into the gastrointestinal tract.

Have you ever questioned Why do we get a cough while eating or swallowing?

If we talk while we are eating or swallowing, we get a cough. The reason behind
this scenario is the epiglottis. It is forced to open for the air to exit outwards and
the food to enter into the windpipe, triggering a cough.


The trachea or the windpipe rises below the larynx and moves down to the neck.
The walls of trachea comprise of C-shaped cartilaginous rings which give
hardness to the trachea and maintain it by completely expanding.


Lungs are the chief centers of respiration process.They are located in the thoracic
cavity of the chest near the backbone and on either side of the heart. They are the
pair of large, spongy organs mainly involved in the exchange of gases between the
blood and the air. Compared to the left lung, the right lung is quite bigger
and heavier.

The trachea splits into two tubes termed as bronchi, which enter each lung
individually. The bronchi are divided into secondary, tertiary, and to bronchioles
which is again further divided into small air sacs termed alveoli.

The alveoli are minute sacs of air with thin walls, and single-celled manner. They
act as a crossing point for the respiratory gases to get diffused in and out of the

Exchange of gases

Exchange of gases occurs in alveoli. Exchange of gases occurs by diffusion based

on pressure or concentration gradient. Two important parameters that affects the
rate of diffusion are – solubility of gases and thickness of membrane.

Pressure contributed by each gas in a mixture of gas is known as partial pressure.

Partial pressure of oxygen and carbon-dioxide is represented by pO2 and pCO2

The partial pressure of oxygen in alveoli is 104 mmHg whereas in blood is 40

mmHg. Similarly, the partial pressure of carbon-dioxide is 40 mmHg in alveoli and
45 mmHg in blood. This creates a concentration gradient between the blood and
the alveoli. The diffusion membrane is made up of 3 layers - the thin squamous
epithelium of alveoli, the endothelium of alveolar capillaries and the basement
substance in between them.

Transport of gases/how oxygen and carbon-dioxide transported in blood?

The transport of oxygen and carbon-dioxide occurs via blood. About 97% of
transport of oxygen occurs by blood. And remaining 3% is transported by plasma.
Similarly, 70% of carbon-dioxide is transported in the form of bicarbonate. Around
25% is transported via red blood cells. Around 7% is transported in dissolved state
via plasma.

Red blood cells contain iron containing red colored pigment known as
Hemoglobin. Hemoglobin binds oxygen in a reversible manner to form oxy-
hemoglobin. Single hemoglobin molecule can bind 4 oxygen moleculesSo, oxygen
binds to hemoglobin in lungs and gets dissociated in tissues.
About 20-25% of carbon-dioxide is transported in the form of carbamino-
hemoglobin. This occurs when partial pressure of carbon-dioxide is high is tissues

In human beings excretion of waste materials take place through a well

developed system of organs called urinary system. The urinary system of human
beings consists of: two kidneys, two ureters, a urinary bladder and a urethra.


In human beings a pair of kidneys is present in the abdomen. The kidneys are
dark red, bean shaped organs. Each kidney is 10 – 13 cm. long and 2.5 to 4 cm.
wide. The function of kidney is to remove the waste materials present in the blood
in the form of yellowish liquid called urine. As shown in Fig. 14ach kidney is
covered by a layer of fibrous tissue called renal capsule. The renal capsule protects
the kidneys from injuries and infection. Internally the kidney is divisible into two
parts: outer renal cortex and inner renal medulla. The renal cortex is dark red while
the renal medulla is light in colour. The medulla is divided into a number of
conical areas called pyramids.

Each kidney is made up of about ten lakh excretory units called nephrons. We
shall discuss the structure of nephron later on.


Ureters are two narrow tubes which carry urine from kidneys to the urinary

Urinary bladder

Urinary bladder is a hollow, pear shaped bag. The function of urinary bladder
is to store urine temporarily.


Urethra is a muscular tube, through which the urine collected in the urinary
bladder is passes out of the body.
Functions of kidneys

1. Kidneys remove the nitrogenous wastes such as urea from the blood.

2. Kidneys also remove excess of water from the body.

3. Kidneys maintain the proper pH of blood by removing excess of acids and

bases from the blood.

4. Kidneys maintain the proper balance of concentration of salts in the blood.

5. Kidneys also remove other toxic substances from the blood.


 Renal Capsule – outer membrane that surrounds the kidney; it is thin but
tough and fibrous
 Renal Pelvis – basin-like area that collects urine from the nephrons, it
narrows into the upper end of the ureter
 Calyx – extension of the renal pelvis; they channel urine from the pyramids
to the renal pelvis
 Cortex – the outer region of the kidney; extensions of the cortical tissue,
contains about one million blood filtering nephrons
 Nephron – these are the filtration units in the kidneys
 Medulla – inner region of the kidney contains 8-12 renal pyramids. The
pyramids empty into the calyx.
 Medullary pyramids – formed by the collecting ducts, inner part of the
 Ureter – collects filtrate and urine from renal pelvis and takes it to the
bladder for urination
 Renal Artery – branches off of the aorta bringing waste-filled blood into the
kidney for filtering in the nephrons; the renal artery is further subdivided
into several branches inside the kidney. Each minute, the kidneys receive
20% of the blood pumped by the heart. Some arteries nourish the kidney
cells themselves.
 Renal Vein – removes the filtered blood from the kidneys to the inferior
vena cava

Kidney Function

Every minute 1300 mL of blood enter the kidneys, 1299 mL leave the kidney. and
1 mL leaves as urine.The kidneys have many functions. The kidneys are the major
organs that maintain homeostasis (balance of the various body functions) in the
body and help control blood pressure. They maintain balance in electrolytes, acid-
base, and fluid in the blood. The kidneys remove nitrogenous waste from the body
(creatinine, urea, ammonia) and keep essential substances the body needs to
function as it should. The kidneys produce the hormone erythropoietin that
stimulates the production of red blood cells and enzymes.

When the kidneys aren’t working as they should, there is a failure of homeostasis
which can cause death if not corrected. A panel of blood tests, called a Kidney
Function Profile, is used to monitor the kidneys, detect kidney problems or make a