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The Importance of a Healthy Respiratory System

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on 13 February 2014

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Transcript of The Importance of a Healthy Respiratory System

The Importance of a Healthy Respiratory System
What is pollutants ?
What is Air Polution ?
Smoke from the factories
Health impact of specific air pollutants
Health effects of Air Polution

Some of these gases can seriously and adversely affect the health of the population and should be given due attention by the concerned authority. The gases mentioned below are mainly outdoor air pollutants but some of them can and do occur indoor depending on the source and the circumstances.

Tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke generates a wide range of harmful chemicals and is a major cause of ill health, as it is known to cause cancer, not only to the smoker but affecting passive smokers too. It is well-known that smoking affects the passive smoker (the person who is in the vicinity of a smoker and is not himself/herself a smoker) ranging from burning sensation in the eyes or nose, and throat irritation, to cancer, bronchitis, severe asthma, and a decrease in lung function.

Carbon monoxide. CO (carbon monoxide) combines with haemoglobin to lessen the amount of oxygen that enters our blood through our lungs.

Sulphur dioxide. SO2 (sulphur dioxide) in the air is caused due to the rise in combustion of fossil fuels. It can oxidize and form sulphuric acid mist.

SPM (suspended particulate matter). Suspended matter consists of dust, fumes, mist and smoke. The main chemical component of SPM that is of major concern is lead, others being nickel, arsenic, and those present in diesel exhaust. These particles when breathed in, lodge in our lung tissues and cause lung damage and respiratory problems.

Functions of Respiratory System
Biological pollutants. These are mostly allergens that can cause asthma, hay fever, and other allergic diseases.

Volatile organic compounds. Volatile compounds can cause irritation of the eye, nose and throat. In severe cases there may be headaches, nausea, and loss of coordination. In the longer run, some of them are suspected to cause damage to the liver and other parts of the body.

Formaldehyde. Exposure causes irritation to the eyes, nose and may cause allergies in some people.

Lead. Prolonged exposure can cause damage to the nervous system, digestive problems, and in some cases cause cancer. It is especially hazardous to small children.

Radon. A radioactive gas that can accumulate inside the house, it originates from the rocks and soil under the house and its level is dominated by the outdoor air and also to some extent the other gases being emitted indoors. Exposure to this gas increases the risk of lung cancer.

Ozone. Exposure to this gas makes our eyes itch, burn, and water and it has also been associated with increase in respiratory disorders such as asthma. It lowers our resistance to colds and pneumonia.

Oxides of nitrogen. This gas can make children susceptible to respiratory diseases in the winters.

Respiratory system is the system of respiratory passages, lungs and respiratory muscles of human body. Respiratory system is responsible for exchange of gases between the human body and the surroundings. In the process of exchange of gases, human body gains oxygen and gets rid of carbon dioxide.

Other gases of the atmosphere have no significant role in human respiratory system. Respiratory system is extremely important for human body because the process of respiration cannot be stropped even for a few seconds.
If the process of respiration stops even for a minute or two, the condition will become serious and will ultimately end in death.

1. GASEOUS EXCHANGE : Main function of respiratory system is gaseous exchange. Through respiratory system new air is always brought into the body and used air is expelled out. In this way oxygen is gained and carbon dioxide is lost by the body.

2. EXCRETION OF CARBON DIOXIDE : Respiratory system is the major system for excretion of carbon dioxide from the body. Carbon dioxide is produced as a result of metabolic break down of carbohydrates in body and must be eliminated quickly. Carbon dioxide is brought to the lungs by blood and is lost from the lungs through gaseous exchange with fresh air in lungs.

3. OXYGENATION OF BLOOD : Oxygen is required by the body for break down of food and must be continuously supplied for continuous supply of energy. Supply of oxygen is maintained by respiratory system.

The importance of a Healthy Respiratory System Substances harmful to the respiratory system • The quality of the air can have significant effects onour respiratory system.• As air moves into our lungs, harmful substances in theair may enter too. These harmful substances can cause disease or even death. • Air pollutants include smoke of cigarettes, gases from the industries, exhaust of engines and haze.

A pollutant is a substance or energy introduced into the environment that has undesired effects, or adversely affects the usefulness of a resource. A pollutant may cause long- or short-term damage by changing the growth rate of plant or animal species, or by interfering with human amenities, comfort, health, or property values. Some pollutants are biodegradable and therefore will not persist in the environment in the long term.

What is Pollution ?
The term "pollution" refers to any substance that negatively impacts the environment or organisms that live within the affected environment. The five major types of pollution include: air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, light pollution, and noise pollution.

Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulates, biological materials, or other harmful materials into the Earth's atmosphere, possibly causing disease, death to humans, damage to other living organisms such as food crops, or the natural or built environment.

Air pollution greatly effects human health with mainly the respiratory and cardiovascular system suffering.
Air pollution affects our health in different ways from simple to serious problems. For example, particulate matter in the air decreases life expectancy according to many researchers; Pollutants such as ozone irritate people's breathing, trigger asthma symptoms and cause lung and heart diseases; exposure to environmental tobacco smoke causes many severe respiratory health problems such as asthma and lung cancer. Prolonged exposure to certain air pollutants can even cause human infertility according to recent medical researchers

Clean air is a basic precondition of our health. However, most of us living in United States and other developed countries suffer from exposure to many air pollutants that put our health at risk.

The Respiratory System
Open Burning

The quality of the Air we breathe affects the quality of our health. Air quality has an impact on the health of our lungs and the entire respiratory system. In addition to oxygen, the air contains other substances such as pollutants, which can be harmful to health. The inhalation of those pollutants may have harmful effects on the lungs and other organs of the body. The respiratory system is particularly sensitive to air pollutants because it is made up of a mucous membrane covering its internal surface. The lungs are designed to absorb large amounts of air (400 million liters on average over a lifetime) in close contact with the bloodstream and facilitate the transport of oxygen.

The cells of the lung tissue can be damaged by air pollutants such as ozone, metals and free radicals. Ozone can cause damage to the alveoli - air sac in the lungs where exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is produced. More specifically, the airway tissues, which contain a large number of bioactivation enzymes, can transform organic pollutants into reactive metabolites, which can cause lung injuries, neurobehavioral disorders, and cancers possibly including breast cancer.

Effects of air pollution on human
Respiratory System

Air pollutants, once inhaled, are absorbed by the blood and transported to the heart. A wide range of chemical and biological substances can directly affect the cardiovascular system and lead to structural damages, such as necrosis degenerative and inflammatory reactions. Some pollutants may also affect contractility of the heart. If these functional changes are sufficiently serious, they can cause fatal arrhythmias.

The changes in the organic systems may also have effects on the endocrine system. Some cytokines released by other inflamed organs (due to air pollutants) may also produce negative effects on the cardio-vascular, including the reduction of the mechanical performance and metabolic efficiency of the heart and blood vessels.

Effects of air pollution on
human cardiovascular system

Diseases and conditions of the respiratory system can be caused by the inhalation of foreign bodies such as cigarette smoke, chemicals, allergens and other irritants. Not all people will develop respiratory ailments as a result of environmental factors, as genetics also play a role in the development of respiratory diseases.
Because the respiratory system is made up of so many different tissues and organs, there are a lot of things that can go wrong and subsequently a lot of different diseases that can affect it.
Dangers of Smoking. Drug users who choose smoking as their route of administration are at greater risk for a number of respiratory problems. Smoking increases the risk for chronic or serious lung infections regardless of the substance smoked, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Hot smoke irritates airways and damages the protective cilia lining the lungs, leading to decreased resistance to infections like pneumonia and bronchitis.

While tobacco has long been known to cause serious lung problems, it can be even more damaging when used with other substances. People who smoke both tobacco and marijuana are at a higher risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than those who smoke only one of the substances, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal by Dr. Wan C. Tan in 2002. The same appears to be true of tobacco and cocaine. Smokers of both cocaine and tobacco sustain damage to cilia beyond that caused by either substance alone.

Various Disease related to
the Respiratory System
Some of the many diseases that can affect the respiratory system include:-

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) - Irritation of the lungs can lead to asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis and people can develop two or three of these together. It is a progressive disease that makes in increasingly difficult for sufferers to breath.
Chronic Bronchitis - Any irritant reaching the bronchi and bronchioles will stimulate an increased secretion of mucus. In chronic bronchitis the air passages become clogged with mucus, and this leads to a persistent cough.


The delicate walls of the alveoli break down, reducing the gas exchange area of the lungs. The condition develops slowly and is seldom a direct cause of death.


Periodic constriction of the bronchi and bronchioles makes it more difficult to breathe. Asthma causes breathing difficulties due to inflammation of bronchi and bronchioles, this causes a restriction in the airflow into the alveoli. Air pollution, tobacco smoke, factory fumes, cleaning solvents, infections, pollens, foods, cold air, exercise, chemicals and medications are some common asthma triggers.

An infection of the alveoli. It can be caused by many kinds of both bacteria and viruses. Tissue fluids accumulate in the alveoli reducing the surface area exposed to air. If enough alveoli are affected, the patient may need supplemental oxygen
Lung cancer

Is often associated with smoking, but the disease can affect non-smokers as well. Like all cancers, lung cancer is caused by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells.
Or flu, is a respiratory illness that is caused by a virus. Flu is highly contagious and is usually spread by the coughs and sneezes of a person who is infected.
You can also catch flu from an infected person if you touch them (e.g. shaking hands). Adults are contagious one day before getting symptoms and up to 7 days after becoming ill.This means that you can spread the influenza virus before you even know you are infected

Tuberculosis (TB)

Is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.TB mainly affects the lungs. However, it can affect any part of the body, including the bones and nervous system.
TB that affects the lungs is the only form of the condition that is contagious and usually only spreads after prolonged exposure to someone with the illness. For example, TB often spreads within a family who live in the same house.
In most healthy people, the immune systemkills the bacteria and you have no further symptoms.

Sometimes the immune system cannot kill the bacteria, but manages to prevent it from spreading in the body. This means you will not have any symptoms, but the bacteria will remain in your body.
If the immune system fails to kill or contain the infection, it can spread to the lungs or other parts of the body and symptoms will develop within a few weeks or months. This is known as active TB.
Latent TB could develop into an active TB infection at a later date, particularly if your immune system becomes weakened.

The Practice of Maintaining Clean Air

You need to breathe to stay alive. But how clean is the air you breathe? If you breathe dirty air, you are more do develop health pronlems and become ill.

 Carpool or move closer to your workplace.

 Ride a bike to work. Use public transport.
The Ways to Improve Air Quality
• Do not smoke - Cause of lung disease , esophagus, larynx and oral cancer.
• Exercise regularly. Always check with your doctor before beginning exercise, especially if you already have any respiratory or other types of conditions.
• Healthy diet - Eating a healthy diet can help boost your immune system and prevent you from respiratory infections and illnesses.
• Drink plenty of water to help thin mucus secretions that accumulate in your lungs, facilitating easier breathing.
• Avoid air pollutants - This is especially essential if you have asthma or allergies. Keep your respiratory system free of pollutants.
• Go to the doctor - If you get a respiratory illness, go to your doctor sooner rather than later.
 An electronic air filtration such as a HEPA filter in the home can help improve air quality.
 Avoid carpeting in the home and stuffed animals in the bedroom.
 Consider hiring an eco-friendly home cleaning service to assist with thorough maintenance of the home.
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