The respiratory system is the system of organs that allow us to breathe. It’s made up of two sections:
includes the nose and mouth, where air enters the body and travels through the windpipe - also known as the trachea. From there the air you breathe enters the lower airway.
includes the lungs, diaphragm and two bronchi, which are tubes that connect the trachea to the lungs. The diaphragm is beneath the lungs and moves up and down to push and pull air through the respiratory system.
The process of breathing (or respiration) has two distinct phases: inhalation and exhalation.
While you can consciously make an effort to inhale and exhale, breathing is an automatic reflex that is controlled by your nervous system.
The normal breathing process starts when the diaphragm, the muscle located under your lungs, contracts (tightens) and moves downward.
When you breathe out, or exhale, your diaphragm relaxes and moves up into your chest cavity.
As the space in your chest cavity gets smaller, air rich in carbon dioxide is forced out of your lungs and windpipe, and then out your nose or mouth.
Learn about the types of conditions that can affect your breathing.
Learn about COPD and available treatment options.
Find out what your options are if you need mechanical ventilation.