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THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
The respiratory system is the breathing system. In the respiratory system
air is inhaled (breathed in) and exhaled (breathed out). Oxygen is
absorbed into the blood stream and carbon dioxide is taken out.
The respiratory system supplies oxygen to the body and excretes carbon dioxide.
The pathway of inspiration starts with air entering the mouth or nose and passing
down through the pharynx, larynx and on into the trachea (windpipe). From the
trachea the air travels into the two main bronchi which pass into the lungs. Once
air enters the bronchi it ventures off into microscopically small bronchioles and
then into minutely small air sacs referred to as alveoli.
The diaphragm assists with both inspiration and expiration with its bellows like
effect.
Activity 1
Place your hands on your diaphragm, just below your ribs. Take slow, deep breaths in and out.
Follow the feeling of the air flowing in through your nostrils and down into your throat. Feel your
lungs expanding and contracting under your hands. Place your hand gently on the front of your
neck and hum. Feeling the voice box or larynx vibrating as the air passes through your vocal
cords.
There are two major parts of the respiratory tract
1. The upper respiratory tract, which includes the:
 nose
 pharynx (throat)
 larynx (voice box)
 trachea (windpipe)
 bronchi and bronchioles (the air tubes in the lungs)
2. The lower respiratory system, which includes the
 lungs
 alveoli (the air sacs in the lungs where gas exchange takes place)
 pleura (the membrane surrounding the lungs)
 diaphragm (the muscle under the lungs that assists with breathing)
Nose
Air passes through the nostrils, into the nasal cavity and then into nasopharynx (where the nose
joins the throat). The nose is divided by the nasal septum. Inhaled air is filtered by the hairs in
the nasal cavity and is moistened and warmed.
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
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Organ
Root
Combining form
Example
Meaning
Nose
Rhin
Rhin/o
Rhinoplasty
Surgical repair of the
nose
Nose
Nas
Nas/o
Nasal
Relating to the nose
Activity 2
What do the following words mean?
Word
Meaning
1
Rhinopathy
2
Nasogastric
3
Nasoseptal
4
Rhinitis
Pharynx
The pharynx or the throat has three major parts
1. The nasopharynx (where the nasal cavity joins the throat)
2. The oropharynx (where the mouth - the oral cavity - joins the throat)
3. The laryngopharnyx (where the pharynx joins the larynx or voice box)
Organ
Root
Combining form
Example
Meaning
Pharynx
(Throat)
Pharyng
Pharyng/o
Pharyngeal
Relating to the throat or
pharynx
Pharyngitis
Inflammation of the throat
or pharynx
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Page 2 of 12
Activity 3
Using the appropriate word parts, construct a word that means
Meaning
Word
1
Relating to the throat and nose (use nas/o)
2
Inflammation to the throat and nose (use nas/o)
3
An instrument to view or examine the pharynx
4
Surgical incision into the throat
Larynx
The larynx or the voice box sits below the pharynx. It contains the vocal chords and the
epiglottis, a lid-like piece of cartilage that prevents food from entering the trachea.
Organ
Root
Combining form
Example
Meaning
Larynx
(voice box)
laryng
laryng/o
laryngeal
Relating to the larynx or
voice box
laryngectomy Excision of the larynx
New
suffix
Meaning
Example
-plasty
surgical repair or reconstruction
Laryngoplasty – surgical repair or
reconstruction of the larynx
-scope
an instrument to view or examine
Laryngoscope
-spasm
A sudden involuntary contraction of Laryngospasm – spasm of the
smooth muscle (a spasm)
larynx
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
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Activity 4
Give the meaning of the following words
Word
Meaning
1
Laryngalgia
2
Laryngectomy
3
Laryngeal
4
laryngopharyngitis
Trachea
The trachea, or windpipe, is a smooth, muscular, tube that carries air to the lungs. Rings of
cartilage stop this tube from collapsing.
Organ
Root
Combining form
Example
Meaning
Trachea
trache
Trache/o
tracheal
Relating to the trachea
tracheostomy Opening from the trachea
to the body surface
Activity 5
Write the meanings of the following words
Word
1
Tracheitis
2
Tracheostomy
3
Tracheolaryngeal
4
Tracheotomy
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Meaning
Page 4 of 12
Bronchial tree
The trachea divides into two main braches called right and left bronchi (singular = bronchus).
These bronchi enter the right and left lungs. This forms a structure like an upside down tree,
where the trachea is the trunk and the bronchi form the main braches. These bronchi divide and
subdivide into smaller bronchial tubes and eventually into the smallest tubes called the
bronchioles. Each bronchiole ends with the alveoli (air sacs) where the gas exchange takes
place with oxygen entering the blood stream and carbon dioxide leaving the blood stream to be
exhaled.
Organ
Root
Combining form
Example
Meaning
Bronchus
bronch
bronch/o
bronchoplasty
Surgical repair of the
bronchi
bronch/i
bronchial
Relating to the bronchi
Bronchi
(pl)
Activity 6
Create a word to mean
Meaning (use bronch/o)
1
Study of the bronchi
2
A spasm of the bronchus
3
Pertaining to the bronchus
4
Disease of the bronchi
Word
Lungs
The lungs are the main organs of respiration. They are made of light, spongy, elastic tissue.
They inflate with the inhalation or inspiration of air and deflate with exhalation or expiration.
The right lung has 3 lobes and the left lung has 2 lobes, leaving room for the heart. Each lobe is
divided into smaller segments.
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
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Organ
Root
Combining form Example
Meaning
Lung/s
pneumon
Pneumon/o
pneumonopathy Disease of the lungs
pulmon
Pulmon/o
pulmonary
Relating to the lung
Activity 7
Give the meanings of the following words
Word
Meaning
1
Pneumonectomy
2
Pneumonia
3
Pneumatic
4
Pneumothorax
Pleura
The pleura is a double layered membrane, a bit like a plastic bag, which protectively covers each
lung. It helps prevent the lungs from rubbing against the ribs.
Organ
Root
Combining form Example
Pleura
Pleur
Pleur/o
New
suffix
Meaning
Example
A surgical puncture, usually to
removal fluid
Amniocentesis (puncture of the amnionic
sac surrounding the foetus, to remove
amniotic fluid for analysis)
pleural
-centesis
Meaning
Relating to the pleura
pneumonopathy Disease of the lungs
Activity 8
Build a word to fit the following meanings
1
2
Meaning
Surgical puncture of the pleura to remove
fluid
Inflammation of the bronchi and pleura
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Word
Page 6 of 12
Diaphragm
The diaphragm is called the muscle of respiration. It sits under the lungs and assists in the
process of breathing. By contracting and relaxing it causes the lungs and chest to move up and
down.
Organ
Root
Combining form
Diaphragm
Phren
phren/o
Example
phrenic
Meaning
Relating to the diaphragm
Person who specialises in the
study of the diaphragm
phrenologist
Activity 9
Create a word to mean
1
2
Meaning
An instrument used to record the movements
of the diaphragm
Pain in the diaphragm
New Word Roots
Meaning
Pneum/o
air
Py/o
Pus
Hydr/o
Water
Thorac/o, -thorax
Chest cavity
Haem/o
blood
Word
Activity 10
Read the following paragraph and rewrite it using lay terms.
Dear Dr Hibbard,
Mrs Robinson saw me last week complaining of a two-week history of pharyngalgia and
rhinorrhoea. I performed a nasopharyngoscopy and observed she was suffering from acute
nasopharyngolaryngitis. I prescribed her antibiotics and asked her to return in one week. On
examination today, Mrs Robinson has moderate dyspnoea, wheezing and severe pain on
inspiration. I have made a diagnosis of pneumonia and am sending her to you for admission
to hospital and IV antibiotic therapy.
Yours sincerely,
Dr White
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
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__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________
Diseases and disorders of the respiratory tract
There are many types of respiratory diseases that feature symptoms of inflammation.
Inflammation in the respiratory system occurs in the mucous membranes that line the airways –
the trachea and the bronchi.
Disease or disorder
Definition
Apnoea
Temporary cessation (stopping) of breathing
Asthma
Airways disease involving inflammation, muscle spasm and
increased mucous production
Bronchiectasis
Widening of the bronchi or branches
Bronchitis
Inflammation of the lining of the trachea and bronchial tubes
Bronchospasm
Bronchus narrows, going into spasms
Chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease
When the lungs become scarred and lose their elasticity due to
smoking
Cyanosis
Bluish discolouration of the skin
Cystic fibrosis
An hereditary disease which causes increased mucus production
Dysphagia
Painful or difficulty in swallowing
Dyspnoea
Difficult or painful breathing
Emphysema
Loss of elasticity of the lung tissue and decreased gas exchange
due to the alveoli being enlarged or damaged.
Empyema
Pus in the pleural cavity
Epiglottitis
Inflammation of the epiglottis
Epistaxis
Nosebleed
Expectoration
Act of spitting out material bought into the mouth by
coughing
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
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Flail chest
Unstable rib cage following multiple fractures of ribs and
sternum can lead to asphyxia
Influenza
Highly contagious viral infection
Laryngitis
Inflammation of the larynx
Laryngomalacia
Condition characterised by attacks of breathing difficulty
and stridor in small children
Laryngotracheobronchitis
Severe, viral infection of respiratory tract
Legionnaires disease
Inflammation of the lungs caused by Legionella
pneumophila
Oedema
Excessive accumulation of fluid in the body tissues
Orthopnoea
Difficulty breathing unless sitting upright (straight up)
Paroxysmal atelectasis
Failure of part of the lung to expand
Pharyngitis
Inflammation of the throat
Pleuritis
Inflammation of the pleura
Pneumonia
Infection of the lung
Pneumothorax
Air in the thoracic cavity
Pulmonary embolism
Obstruction of blood vessels in the lungs by a clot
Pulmonary emphysema
Air in tissues of the lungs
Rales
Abnormal lung sounds
Rhinitis
Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose
Rhonchus
Noise produced by air passing through bronchi
Sinusitis
Inflammation of the sinuses
Sleep apnoea
Cessation of breathing during sleep
Somnolence
Sleepiness
Tonsillitis
Inflammation of the tonsils
Tuberculosis
An infectious disease of the lung
Wheeze
Whistling sound that is heard when the bronchi become inflamed
and constricted
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
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Terms and Word Parts:
antr/o
antrum
bronchioles
small subdivision of bronchi (P)
bronchus (S)
one of the two tubes carrying air to the lungs
glottis
vocal cords and the space between
laryng/o
larynx (voice box)
lingu/a/o
tongue
maxill/o
maxilla (upper jawbone)
nas/o
nose
pharyng/o
pharynx (throat)
-phasia
speech
phon/o
sound or voice
pleur/o
pleural membranes /rib/ side
pneum/a/o
gas / air, also lung / breath
-pnoea
breathing
pulm/o
lung
rhin/o
nose
somn/i/o
sleep
spir/o
to breathe
steth/o
chest / breast
thorac/o
thorax (the chest)
trache/o
trachea (the windpipe)
Abbreviations:
COAD /COPD
chronic obstructive airways disease (pulmonary)
CAL
chronic airway limitation
CPAP
continuous positive airway pressure
ENT
ear, nose and throat
LRT
lower respiratory tract
LRTI
lower respiratory tract infection
SOB
short of breath
URT
upper respiratory tract
URTI
upper respiratory tract infection
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
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Procedures:
Antrectomy
Removal of an antrum
Bronchoscopy
Looking into the bronchi or trachea
Laryngoscopy
Looking into the larynx
Laryngotomy
Incision into the larynx
Rhinoplasty
Repair or correction of the nose
Thoracotomy
Incision into the chest cavity
Tracheostomy
Surgical opening into the trachea so a tube can be inserted
to provide an airway if the trachea is blocked, damaged or
there is a need for long term ventilation.
Turbinectomy
Removal of one of the bones forming the cavity of the nose
Turbinotomy
Incision into one of the bones forming the cavity of the nose
Activity 11
1.
Apnoea means
a
b
c
d
2.
not sleeping
deflation of the lungs
not breathing
cot death
Bronchitis is?
a
b
c
d
inflammation of the lung
severe coughing
asthma
inflammation of the bronchial tubes
3.
What is the name for air in the chest cavity? _______________________________
4.
What is the name of the instrument used to view the bronchi? __________________
5.
The process of measuring someone’s breathing is called what? ________________
6.
The membranes surrounding the lungs are called the?
7.
The thoracic cavity and the abdominal cavity are separated by the? _____________
8.
A new opening into the trachea is called a? ________________________________
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
_____________________
Page 11 of 12
9.
What is the medical term for a nosebleed?
10. Dyspnoea means difficult, painful
________________________________
______________________________________
11. What is the meaning of the abbreviation URTI? _____________________________
12. Circle the correct medical term for the following definitions:
Definition
Term 1
or
Term 2
X-ray of the bronchus
is
bronchoplasty
bronchogram
Removal of a lung
is
lungectomy
pneumonectomy
A disease of the lung
is
pneumophonia
pneumonia
Incision into a lobe
is
cophotomy
lobotomy
Removal of a lobe
is
lobectomy
laryngectomy
Inflammation of the lung
is
lungitis
pneumonitis
Incision into the chest
is
thoracotomy
roofectomy
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
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