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Respiratory System Disorders and Heath

Respiratory System Disorders and Heath

Author: Amanda Soderlind

Understand common disorders associated with the respiratory system.

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Respiratory System Disorders and Health

Source: Video and Images Created by Amanda Soderlind

Video Transcription

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Welcome to this lesson today on the respiratory system disorders and health.

Today we will be discussing various disorders associated with the respiratory system, and also health of the respiratory system.

We're going to start by taking a look at these disorders right here, which are all disorders caused by irritants. These disorders, bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma are all disorders caused when particles or gases , or some sort of airborne irritant will cause damage to a part of the respiratory system, and oftentimes leads to difficulty breathing.

Bronchitis. Basically, this disorder occurs when pollution will increase mucus secretions, and then mucus will accumulate in the airways. There's usually a lot of coughing and difficulty breathing associated with bronchitis.

Emphysema is another type of disorder caused by irritants. Emphysema, basically, the lungs will become inflamed due to these irritants, and then it causes the lungs to become inelastic. If the lungs are inelastic, they can't exchange gases as efficiently as they normally would.

Asthma is the last type of disorder we're going to discuss that is caused by an irritant. Asthma, basically what happens in this, is that bronchials-- which are structures that connect the trachea to the lungs-- so bronchials will suddenly narrow. And when this happens it makes it very, very difficult to breathe. Asthma can be caused by an infection. It can be caused by heavy exercise, by stress. There's actually various different factors that cause asthma to become triggered. So these disorders are all caused by some sort of irritant. As I mentioned, particles, gases, or any other type of airborne irritants. And they oftentimes lead to difficulty breathing.

Disorders caused by viruses and bacteria are the next type of disorders we're going to discuss. They're all caused by some sort of virus or bacteria. So the two examples we're going to talk about today are pneumonia and tuberculosis, also sometimes called TB.

Pneumonia occurs when a virus, or bacteria, or fungi are inhaled, and then this affects the lungs. So basically, you have fluid build up within the lungs. So fluid starts to build up in the lungs and it becomes difficult to breathe, because the fluid is taking up space that air would normally take up. So pneumonia is caused by some sort of virus, bacteria, or fungi being inhaled, and causing fluid buildup in the lungs.

Tuberculosis, as I mentioned, is sometimes called TB. It's a lung infection caused by a bacteria. So this one is specifically caused by bacteria. Tuberculosis. Basically what happens in this disorder is that patches of lung tissue will become destroyed because of this bacteria. And so if it's left untreated, it can actually be fatal, because these patches of lung tissue become destroyed, and again, gases are not being exchanged as properly as they should. And these gas exchanges are very, very important for the maintenance of cells and tissue. Cells and tissues need oxygen in order to be able to function. Thankfully, we have a vaccine against tuberculosis. So most people are actually generally vaccinated for this disease. So in the United States, it's generally not too big of an issue.

Sleep apnea is another disorder of the respiratory system. Sleep apnea basically occurs when sensors in the brain that detect oxygen and carbon dioxide levels don't properly function. So we have these sensors in the brain that determine if oxygen levels get too low, or carbon dioxide levels get too high. If these sensors don't properly function, breathing patterns can be disrupted. So when a person is sleeping, sometimes their breathing will temporarily stop. So this, as you can see, it can be kind of a dangerous disorder to deal with. But it's generally most prevalent in elderly people or obese people. So again, sensors in the brain that detect carbon dioxide and oxygen levels don't properly function.

Now we're going to talk a little bit about maintaining health of the respiratory system. One factor that plays a huge role in degenerating the health of the respiratory system is smoking. So smoking can cause various disorders of the respiratory system. It can prevent cilia from beating properly. It can cause mucous secretions, and kill phagocytes in the lining of the respiratory system. Phagocytes are important in maintaining respiratory health. So if these phagocytes of the respiratory system are killed, that's something that you don't want, because they help keep the respiratory system healthy. And smoking can also increase the risk of lung cancer. In addition to that, it can also increase the risk of breast cancer. It can lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol. So smoking not only has an effect on the respiratory system, but it also has an effect on the entire body as a whole.

This lesson has been an overview on the respiratory system, disorders and health.

Terms to Know

A condition in which bronchioles narrow suddenly, causing breathing troubles. Asthma can be triggered by allergens, stress, exercise, or respiratory infections.


Inflammation of the mucous membranes within the bronchial tubes. Bronchitis can be caused by a virus or air pollutants.


Hair-like projections found on the surface of various types of cells that play a role in locomotion.


Frequent inflammation of the lungs causes airways to become stiffened, and alveoli to break down. This leads to insufficient gas exchange.


Cells that act in innate immunity to engulf pathogens (phagocytosis) in an attempt to prevent infection.


An infection of the lungs in which fluid build-up makes it difficult to breathe.

Sleep Apnea

A condition in which a person's breathing suddenly stops for a period of time and then resumes during sleep.


A lung infection caused by a type of bacteria which destroys lung tissue.