Why don't the lungs collapse between breaths?

Breathing and voice - vital air currents

The rhythm of our breathing accompanies us continuously and for life, as our body cannot build up an oxygen supply. The lungs must therefore be supplied with fresh air about 12 to 20 times per minute, depending on the physical activity, in order to maintain the body's constant oxygen supply. Every single cell needs oxygen in order to be able to use the energy contained in the supplied nutrients. When the energy is released, carbon dioxide is produced at the same time, a gas that is poisonous for the body and has to be excreted as quickly as possible.

Our breathing system is designed to absorb sufficient oxygen from the ambient air so that the body's energy needs can be met. A wide variety of areas of the respiratory system are involved in this task. It consists of the upper airways that lead from the nose and mouth to the inside of the body via the larynx. Via the trachea reinforced with cartilage and the branched bronchial tree, the air currents are transported with each breath to the tiny alveoli, where the oxygen from the surrounding air is absorbed into the blood and, conversely, the harmful carbon dioxide is released into the exhaled air. This process is known as gas exchange. Inhalation and exhalation are supported by the intercostal muscles and the diaphragm.

Breathing is also necessary for voice production. The controlled exhalation of air causes the vocal cords in the larynx to vibrate. Humans can communicate with others using tones and sounds.

Respiratory system: This is where the air flows

What happens when you breathe?

Air is continuously being transported to and from the lungs. This happens through an entire system of airways. On its way to the lungs, air enters the body through the nose and passes through the throat, larynx and windpipe.

The airways not only direct air in and out of the body, they also warm, humidify and cleanse it. Inside the lungs, oxygen is absorbed from the air we breathe, and the excess carbon dioxide is released back into the air. The two lungs work incessantly. As a result, the body is continuously supplied with oxygen.

How is the nose constructed?

The nose (Nasus) - the entry port of air - consists of two parts, the outer nose and the nasal cavity. The outer nose is made up of the nasal bone and flexible cartilage tissue. The nasal cavity, which lies behind the outer nose, occupies the space between the hard palate and the ethmoid located behind the nasal bone and is vertically divided into two halves by the partly bony nasal septum. On the surface of each half there are three bulges formed by protruding bones that act as turbinates (Conchae) are designated. There is a nasal passage underneath each of these mussels. The paranasal sinuses also open into the nasal cavity.

When inhaling, the air flows through the two nostrils or the front nasal entrance, passes the two halves of the nasal cavity and leaves the nose through the two rear nostrils towards the throat.

What are the sinuses of the nose for?

The paranasal sinuses are hollow spaces lined with mucous membrane and arranged in pairs in the bones of the face. This includes the frontal sinuses (Frontal sinus), Maxillary sinuses, sphenoid sinuses and the ethmoid cells. Taken together, they reduce the weight of the skull. They also offer a resonance space for voice training.

Where does the nasal mucus come from?

In the nasal cavity. Like most of the respiratory system, it is lined with a mucous membrane that secretes watery mucus. The nasal cavity is also traversed by a dense network of thin-walled blood vessels, which, thanks to the increased blood circulation, act like a heating element and warm the air flowing through the nasal cavity.

What is the benefit of inhaling through the nose?

Of course, the air can also enter the airways via the mouth. Inhaling through the nose, however, allows the air to be warmed, humidified, and purified before it enters the lungs.

At the front nasal entrance, numerous coarse, rigid hairs prevent the penetration of dust and dirt particles with the inhaled air. As the air you breathe passes through the turbinates and nasal passages, eddies are created, through which the air circulates within the nasal cavity. As a result, it is warmed and moistened by the mucous membrane. Small dust particles get stuck in the sticky slime. The mucus is transported through the cells of the so-called ciliated epithelium on the mucous membrane of the nasal cavity towards the throat. Each cell has about 250 cilia - or cilia - that move according to a common cycle and thus further transport the mucus.

Why does my nose run when I cry?

Larger amounts of tears cannot be handled by the tear ducts of the eyes alone. The tear duct, a narrow tube lined with mucous membrane that drains the tear fluid from the corner of the eye, opens into the nasal cavity. Crying creates a large amount of tear fluid, some of which drains through the nose.

What happens when you sneeze?

Sneezing is a protective reflex that removes foreign objects or accumulations of mucus from the nose that have got into the nasal cavity. With the sudden and often loud action, the contents of the nose are carried outwards by the strong air flow. The blast of air reaches speeds of up to 160 kilometers per hour.

What is called a throat?

"Throat" is the name for the part of the throat that serves as the airway. The pharynx is reminiscent of its appearance (Pharynx) to a short piece of a red water hose. This tube connects the nose with the larynx. Since it also forms the connection between the oral cavity and the esophagus, most of the throat serves as a food and airway. Like the nasal cavity, the mucous membrane of the upper throat (nasopharynx) is covered with cilia, which transport dust particles caught in the mucus down the throat. The almonds, which are important for defense against disease, are located in the throat area.

What are the names of the individual throat sections?

The pharynx consists of the three successive pharynx sections of the nose, mouth and larynx. The nasopharynx is the uppermost section and runs from the rear nostril to the soft palate, the "flaccid" area at the rear end of the oral cavity. Only air flows through the nasopharynx. During the swallowing process, the soft palate is pushed upwards and closes the nasopharynx so that no food can get into the nasal cavity. The middle section of the pharynx, the oropharynx, has a connection to the oral cavity and serves both as an airway and as a food pathway. The lowest part of the pharynx, the larynx, is divided into two parts and consists of the larynx, through which the air is transported to the lungs, in the front part and the esophagus, through which the food is transported to the stomach, in the rear part.

What connects the pharynx with the windpipe?

It's the larynx (Larynx) - a funnel-shaped structure about five centimeters long. At its upper end it is connected to the hyoid bone, at its lower end it connects to the trachea. The larynx fulfills three tasks: it allows unhindered passage of air and has a closing mechanism that seals the airways when swallowing so that no food gets into the lungs. It is also the most important organ in voice training.

How does the larynx keep air and food apart?

While breathing the epiglottis shows (Epiglottis) up and leaning against the back of the tongue so that air can flow freely through the larynx. During the act of swallowing, however, the epiglottis folds backwards and closes the entrance to the larynx so that the food is guided down the esophagus. The function of the epiglottis makes it extremely difficult to swallow and breathe at the same time. If food and other parts accidentally get into the larynx, the epiglottis triggers the cough reflex.

What exactly is the Adam's apple?

The larynx can be felt as a hard protrusion in the front of the neck. The conspicuous elevation on its front is popularly called Adam's apple. It is part of the thyroid cartilage, one of nine pieces of cartilage that make up the larynx. The cartilage is held together by ligaments and membranes.

Other pieces of cartilage include the ring-shaped cricoid cartilage that connects the larynx with the windpipe, the adjusting cartilage that holds the vocal cords in place, and the epiglottis, a leaf-shaped cartilage valve that is attached to the upper, front edge of the larynx.

How long is the windpipe?

It measures about ten to twelve centimeters. This muscular tube with a diameter of about 2.5 centimeters runs behind the breastbone and transports the air between the larynx and the lungs. The trachea divides at its base (Trachea) into the two main bronchi, the right and left main bronchus, which each lead into a lung.

Up to 20 C-shaped cartilage braces give the trachea a certain stiffness. They keep the windpipe open and prevent it from collapsing due to the negative pressure during inhalation. The cartilage braces point with their opening to the rear, where the trachea rests on the parallel esophagus. The free ends of the cartilage brackets are horizontally connected by smooth muscles, which, by contraction, can narrow the trachea to facilitate the expulsion of mucus during coughing.

What happens to the mucus in the windpipe?

Dust and other particles stick to the mucus produced by the lining of the windpipe and, together with the mucus, are carried up towards the throat, where it can be swallowed or expelled by coughing.

What does the ear, nose and throat specialist call ...

Sinusitis? If the natural ventilation of the paranasal sinuses is hindered by a build-up of secretions - for example when the nasal mucous membrane swells as a result of a cold or an allergy - bacteria can multiply and lead to "sinusitis". The maxillary and frontal sinuses are particularly often affected.

Pseudo croup? This "viral infection" of the larynx and trachea, also known as Krupp syndrome, occurs mostly in small children. Mechanical, acute shortness of breath and the typical barking cough occur, especially at night.

Laryngitis? In "laryngitis" there is inflammation of the mucous membrane, the cartilage structure and the vocal cords. It usually develops with colds with hoarseness, fever and larynx pain.

Influenza? The "viral flu" is caused by different types of influenza viruses and often occurs as an epidemic. A few hours to days after the infection, there is a fever, headache and body aches, severe illness, impaired breathing and circulatory disorders.

Lungs: 35 square meters of breathing space per wing

What is the protection of the lungs?

Through the bony rib cage (Thorax). The two cone-shaped lungs take up most of the chest cavity - the central median space is an exception (Mediastinum), Located in the heart, larger blood vessels, windpipe, bronchi and esophagus. The base of the lungs rests on the diaphragm, an arched muscle plate that separates the chest and abdomen.

The lung (Pulmo) consists of connective tissue and elastic fibers that allow it to expand as you inhale and contract as you exhale. Each lung is divided into lobes by furrows. The left lung consists of two, the right of three lung lobes. The lobes of the lungs are also divided into segments and these in turn are divided into lobes. The lungs weigh only one kilogram. It owes its low weight to its special structure. It is traversed by a network of air-filled passages, the bronchial tree. Hence the spongy consistency of the lungs.

Where does the windpipe branch into the bronchi?

Approximately at the level of the middle of the sternum. Both of the main bronchi enter the lungs along with the blood vessels at a notch called the pulmonary portal or hilum. Within the lungs, each main bronchus is divided into multiple bronchi and bronchioles.

The left main bronchus divides into two, the right main bronchus into three lobes, each lobe is responsible for a specific lobe of the lung. The lobe bronchi, in turn, divide into segment bronchi, each of which supplies a specific segment within a lung lobe. This division continues in many ways and leads to even smaller ramifications, the bronchioles, which are only about one millimeter in diameter. The branches at the end of the bronchioles are called the terminal bronchioles. Each lung contains around 30,000 of these terminal bronchioles, whose diameter is only 0.5 millimeters. They divide again into two or three so-called bronchioli respiratorii, which are finally in the alveoli (Alveoli) end up. The lungs contain more than 300 million alveoli. Unfolded, they would give a total breathing area of ​​70 square meters.

What is special about the bronchioles?

The more the bronchi branch, the less supportive cartilage they contain. However, the proportion of smooth muscles in the walls of the bronchioles is comparatively high. Its diameter can be changed in order to offer greater or lesser resistance to the air flowing through it. Bronchioles - and also alveoli - have macrophages or dust cells that flow around inhaled dust particles, pathogens and other foreign substances and render them harmless.

What is the pleura used for?

It allows the lungs to move freely. Each lung has a thin, double-layered skin, the pleura (Pleura), overdrawn. The outer membrane, the pleura, covers the inside of the chest and the upper end of the diaphragm. The inner membrane, the lung membrane, covers the lungs. The two layers of the pleura secrete a watery liquid in the pleural space between them, which enables the effortless and painless movement of the lungs over the inner chest wall and the diaphragm during breathing.

Where does the lungs get the blood from?

From the pulmonary circulation. Deoxygenated blood from the right ventricle enters the lungs through the pulmonary arteries, which branch repeatedly. The smallest blood vessels in the lungs, the pulmonary capillaries, surround the individual alveoli and absorb oxygen. The oxygen-rich blood then flows away from the alveoli in gradually larger blood vessels. These blood vessels flow into the pulmonary veins that carry the blood to the left heart. After that, the blood is pumped throughout the body and also brings oxygen and nutrients to the lung tissue.

What does the doctor mean by ...

Bronchitis? As a trigger for the widespread "inflammation of the bronchi". viruses, bacteria, fungi, allergens, irritant gases, tobacco smoke and foreign bodies come into question.

Asthma? This is the term used to describe acute or chronic shortness of breath, which usually occurs like a seizure or is aggravated in an attack. The cause can be allergies or infections.

Pleurisy? This is an "inflammation of the pleura" with typically sharp, breath-dependent pain and possibly an accumulation of fluid between the two pleural membranes (so-called pleural effusion).

Bronchiectasis? The incurable "enlargements of the bronchial wall" are manifested by coughing with sputum, coughing up blood, frequent respiratory infections and significant exhaustion.

Emphysema? In "lung overinflation" there is an enlargement of the air space in the lungs as a result of incurable destruction of the alveoli with restricted gas exchange and shortness of breath.

Gas exchange: fill up with oxygen step by step

What happens during gas exchange?

Here the life-giving oxygen is exchanged for the waste product carbon dioxide that is no longer required. The tiny, sac-like alveoli form the surface on which the gas exchange can take place.

Gas exchange takes place in the body in two ways. In the lungs, it is the alveoli where oxygen enters the blood and the carbon dioxide is removed from the blood. In the body cells, gas exchange takes place in the opposite direction.

Where are the alveoli located?

They are found at the end of the smallest branches of the bronchi that penetrate the lungs.This is where the alveolar sacs are located, which consist of several tiny alveoli that are connected like grapes. The blood capillaries of the pulmonary circulation surround each and every alveoli like a dense spider web. They supply the oxygen-poor blood and after it has been enriched with oxygen, send it back towards the body. The inside of the alveoli is covered with a thin film of liquid that is formed by special epithelial cells. This liquid contains surfactant, a surface-active substance that prevents the force of surface tension within the liquid film from acting on the walls of the alveoli and causing them to collapse.

Where do blood and breath meet?

On a wafer-thin membrane. The distance between the interior of the alveoli and the interior of the surrounding blood capillaries is barely 0.001 millimeters. The separating membrane, known as the blood-air barrier, consists of the alveolar wall and the capillary wall and is only one cell thick each.

How does oxygen get into the blood?

The uptake of oxygen into the blood and the release of carbon dioxide into the breathable air occurs through the process of diffusion. Since the oxygen tends to equalize the concentration gradient between air and blood, it passes from the alveoli, where there is a higher oxygen concentration, via the blood-air barrier into the oxygen-poor blood of the capillaries. An equalization of the concentration can never take place, however, because the alveoli are continuously supplied with new oxygen through breathing and the pulmonary capillaries send more and more oxygen-poor blood to the alveoli. The diffusion process is supported by the film of liquid inside the alveoli. Before the oxygen reaches the blood via the blood-air barrier, it has to be dissolved in the liquid.

How is oxygen transported in the body?

Most of the transport is carried out by the hemoglobin of the red blood cells. In places with a high concentration of oxygen, oxygen attaches to the hemoglobin. Each hemoglobin molecule can take up four oxygen molecules and the oxygen affinity of the hemoglobin increases with each attached oxygen molecule. The oxygen-rich blood with the oxygen-saturated hemoglobin is first transported by the pulmonary veins to the left ventricle and then brought to the tissues by the arteries and blood capillaries of the body's circulation. Most of the carbon dioxide is transported in dissolved form in the blood plasma and diffuses out of the blood as soon as the carbon dioxide concentration in the environment is low.

How does the gas exchange take place in the tissues?

Due to the constant consumption of oxygen by the cells, the oxygen concentration in the tissues is low. This leads to the fact that the oxyhemoglobin contained in the red blood cells, as the oxygen-laden hemoglobin is also known, releases its oxygen. It passes through the blood capillary wall and migrates towards the tissue fluid, from where it diffuses into the tissue cells and is consumed during cell respiration. 20 to 25 percent of the oxygen transported by hemoglobin is released - a little more during physical exertion - so that the venous blood still contains oxygen. The carbon dioxide diffuses in the opposite direction from the cells into the tissue fluid and through the capillary wall into the blood. It is then transported by the veins of the body's circulation to the right ventricle and from there through the pulmonary arteries to the lungs, where the carbon dioxide is released.

Why do we have such a large surface of breath?

The approximately 300 million alveoli represent practically the entire lung volume. In their entirety, these elastic, thin-walled alveoli form a huge surface for gas exchange. It measures about 35 times the total surface of the skin. This large surface area is essential for maintaining homeostasis. It must be ensured that the blood can be enriched with enough oxygen within a very short time so that the body is always optimally supplied. In addition, the degradation product, carbon dioxide, has to be removed as quickly as possible before it can poison the body's cells.

Breathing: Lifelong rhythm

Where does breathing actually take place?

On the surface, we perceive them as air currents in the nose and throat. However, it takes place inside the chest cavity, the volume of which is constantly changing. The breathing (Ventilation) is a pumping process in which fresh air is drawn into the lungs and stale air is expelled again. Breathing constantly replenishes the body's oxygen reserves and removes excess carbon dioxide. During the gas exchange within the alveoli, the oxygen content of the air in the lungs decreases, but the carbon dioxide content increases.

The breathing mechanism is a rhythmic process that goes on incessantly from the moment we are born until we die. The lungs do not move actively because they do not have any muscle tissue of their own. However, the lung tissue has enough elasticity to allow it to expand and contract again.

What is the function of the pleura?

The pleura, which lines the inside of the chest and covers the two lungs, helps maintain a vacuum between the lungs, the surrounding bony rib cage, and the diaphragm. This negative pressure prevents the lungs from collapsing. It therefore follows the movements of the ribs and diaphragm. There is a liquid film on the pleura, on which the lungs glide smoothly over the ribs while breathing.

What do the diaphragm and intercostal muscles do?

They change the volume of the chest. The diaphragm (Diaphragm) is a muscle plate consisting of striated muscles that plays a dominant role in the breathing process. The changes in chest volume are mainly caused by the diaphragm and intercostal muscles. During the contraction, the diaphragm flattens, expands the chest cavity and pushes the abdominal organs down. During relaxation, the diaphragmatic dome lifts up again due to the pressure in the abdomen. The internal and external intercostal muscles connect adjacent ribs. The contraction of the external intercostal muscles increases the volume of the chest, while the contraction of the internal decreases it.

What happens when I inhale?

When you breathe in, also called inspiration, the diaphragm contracts and descends. The simultaneous contraction of the external intercostal muscles lifts the ribs and pushes them outward. The sternum is shifted forward. This increases the volume of the chest and with it the volume of the lungs. The pressure inside drops and air is drawn in through the nose and mouth.

How does the exhalation work?

Exhalation, which is also known as expiration, is usually a passive process when breathing is calm, as the natural elasticity of the lung tissue ensures that it contracts again after expansion. When you relax, the diaphragmatic dome rises again due to the pressure of the abdominal organs. The external intercostal muscles also relax and lower the rib cage. This leads to a decrease in the volume of the chest and compression of the alveoli. The pressure inside increases and the air is expelled from the lungs through the mouth and nose.

What are the different breathing techniques?

A distinction is made between two different forms of breathing: diaphragmatic and chest breathing. With normal, calm breathing in a relaxed sitting position, the ribs move only a little and breathing is mainly caused by the activity of the diaphragm. About 500 milliliters of air are inhaled. This breathing is referred to as diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing, because the abdomen curves rhythmically forwards during breathing.

With physical exertion, inhalation is deeper, so that more air gets into the lungs to meet the body's increased need for oxygen. Now the intercostal muscles play a more important role. This can be seen in the movement of the chest and a group of auxiliary breathing muscles (e.g. the head turner on the neck) that help the chest expand upwards. This mode of breathing is called chest breathing, in which the active lifting of the ribs is clearly visible.

Did you know that …

we breathe about 20,000 times a day?

Do you inhale and exhale the amount of air that is in your room while you sleep? So better leave the window open at night.

mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is only effective because our exhaled air still contains 17 percent of the originally inhaled 21 percent oxygen?

Can we control our breathing?

Only slightly. Although we can consciously change our breathing rate for a short time and even hold our breath, the breathing center still retains overall control.

The respiratory center in the elongated marrow of the brain stem controls and modifies the respiratory rate. At rest, an adult breathes in and out 12 to 18 times per minute. This frequency is sufficient to meet the body's need for oxygen. During physical exertion - e.g. B. in sports - this frequency can more than double. This also increases the respiratory volume. The increase in respiratory rate and tidal volume increases the amount of oxygen that enters the blood through gas exchange. This allows the skeletal muscles to be supplied with the large amounts of oxygen they need to release the energy required for movement. This also makes it easier to remove the increased waste product carbon dioxide. The breathing rate also increases in fearful and stressful situations and thus prepares the body for a corresponding reaction.

How does the respiratory center work?

The respiratory center in the brain stem adjusts the respiratory rate and volume to the information it receives about the state of homeostasis in the body. In this way, the oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations are maintained at the required level. Chemoreceptors detect any increase in the carbon dioxide concentration in the blood and pass their information on to the respiratory center. In addition, the respiratory center receives information from the stretch receptors in the muscles, which perceive the increased movement activity. The respiratory center sends nerve impulses to the diaphragm and intercostal muscles in regular succession, causing them to contract.

How long does a breath take?

In the resting state, an impulse to breathe in takes about two seconds, the exhalation phase about three seconds. Both phases are shortened with physical activity.

What can disturb the breath?

He can be z. B. disrupt the rhythm by yawning or coughing.

When yawning, we breathe in deeply with our mouths wide open. The inhalation phase is therefore significantly longer. Yawning is a reflex and can be triggered by an increased level of carbon dioxide in the blood. It is used to clear the lungs of stale air more quickly.

Coughing usually occurs as a respiratory protection reflex, which is supposed to clear the deeper airways of mucus, dust, harmful vapors or foreign bodies. A foreign object in the larynx or airway results in an unusually deep breath. The glottis closes, the muscles of the chest muscles become very tense and the air pressure in the airways rises. Suddenly the glottis opens with a strong exhalation and with the air the stimulating object is expelled into the oral cavity.

When do the hiccups occur?

Hiccups usually occur as a result of diaphragmatic irritation. Spasmodic contractions lead to sudden, involuntary inhalation with subsequent, audible closure of the glottis, the sound characteristic of the hiccups. The measures against this often agonizing disturbance of the breathing rhythm are very individual and range from "holding your breath" to a headstand.

How does the breath adapt at high altitude?

At altitudes above 2500 meters, the density and oxygen content of the air are significantly lower than at sea level. For people who work at great heights, e.g. B. in the Andes, the body adapts to the changed atmospheric conditions. There are essentially two changes.

On the one hand, the lower oxygen concentration in the air makes the chemoreceptors in the blood vessels more sensitive. This causes the respiratory center in the elongated marrow to increase the respiratory rate so that homeostasis is maintained and sufficient oxygen is supplied to the body. In a person living at high altitude, the amount of air inhaled and exhaled in one minute is eight to nine liters compared to six liters at sea level.

On the other hand, the lower oxygen concentration in the blood stimulates the kidneys to release the hormone erythropoietin, which stimulates the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow. By increasing the number of red blood cells, the blood can carry more oxygen.

What does the doctor mean by ...

Sleep apnea syndrome? In this disease, which often occurs in overweight, older men, breathing stops and spontaneously resumes during nightly sleep for a period of ten seconds to one minute. Loud snoring, headaches in the morning and pronounced daytime sleepiness are typical.

Cystic fibrosis? The congenital metabolic disease, also known as “cystic fibrosis”, causes the exocrine glands to produce very tough, salty secretions that cause problems in the bronchi, in particular, but also in other organs. Even infants tend to have frequent pneumonia and do not thrive.

Pertussis? "Whooping cough" is a childhood disease that is transmitted by droplet infection when breathing and coughing. By narrowing the glottis, inhaling sounds loud and tortured, until thick mucus can finally be coughed up

Tuberculosis? This reportable infectious disease, also known simply as "Tb" or "Tbc", is spread around the world and is transmitted by the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It mostly affects the lungs, but can also affect other organs.

Lung capacities: breathing liters by the liter

Can our lungs fill differently?

Yes. The volume of air inhaled and exhaled varies as it adapts to the changing oxygen demand in everyday life and also depends on age, gender and state of health as well as fitness and current activity.

The lung fillings caused by inhalation and exhalation must be balanced to ensure that enough air remains in the lungs for gas exchange and that the correct amount of oxygen is supplied and carbon dioxide is removed.

Is there still air in the lungs after exhaling?

Yes. The lungs are never completely emptied while breathing. They also do not expand to their maximum capacity. A completely emptied lung could not develop properly afterwards - this is e.g. B. the case of a collapsed lung. If the lungs were to empty completely, the gas exchange between two breaths would also be interrupted. Our lungs are never filled with absolutely "fresh" air. The air that remains in the lungs after exhalation has a lower oxygen and higher carbon dioxide content than the air around us. When you breathe in, the air left in the lungs is refreshed by adding oxygen and removing carbon dioxide.

How much air normally flows through the lungs?

In a healthy organism, the amount of air that is inhaled and exhaled during normal, calm breathing is around 500 milliliters, which is almost the volume of a football. This measurand is called the tidal volume (AZV). The inspiratory reserve volume (IRV), on the other hand, is the amount of air that can be additionally inhaled after normal inhalation with exertion. It is about 3.1 liters for men and 2.3 liters for women. The sum of these two volumes gives the inspiratory capacity (IK). This value is accordingly an average of 3.6 liters for men and 2.8 liters for women.

Can we exhale more air after exhaling?

Yes. The amount of air that can be exhaled with exertion after normal exhalation is called the expiratory reserve volume (ERV). It is up to 1.2 liters for men and 0.7 liters for women. The residual volume (RV) is the amount of air that remains in the lungs after maximum expiration, namely 1.2 liters for men and 0.7 liters for women. The residual volume is extremely important as it acts as a reservoir between breaths, ensures uninterrupted gas exchange and prevents the collapse of the delicate alveoli. These measurements can also be used to determine the maximum amount of air that can be inhaled and exhaled. This maximum value is called the vital capacity (VK) and is the sum of AZV + IRV + ERV. The vital capacity of a healthy person is on average 4.8 and 3.5 liters for men and women.

What is the maximum amount of air that can fit in the lungs?

The total capacity of a lung (TC) is the maximum possible volume of air that a lung can hold. This is calculated by adding IRV + AZV + ERV + RV = TK. The total capacity for men and women is on average 6.0 and 4.2 liters, respectively.

What is the importance of measuring lung capacities?

It is used by doctors and therapists to assess lung function. This usually becomes necessary when someone has difficulty breathing or is having an asthma attack. The test most frequently carried out in a doctor's office is the measurement of the maximum expiratory flow during increased breathing, also known as the peak flow test. The patient blows heavily into a special measuring device that measures and displays this maximum value.

Another test that is frequently performed is the breath test or the second capacity test. This is the volume of air expelled in the following first second after deep inhalation and rapid exhalation. In healthy lungs, around 80 percent of the air inhaled is expelled. Based on the result, the doctor or therapist can assess which drug treatment or other respiratory support the patient needs. The result also provides information on the general fitness and stamina of the person examined.

What does "Boyle's Law" mean?

The Anglo-Irish chemist and physicist Robert Boyle (1627–1691) described the relationship between pressure and volume in a closed container. If the volume of an enclosed space increases, the pressure of the air inside it decreases. However, if the volume of the container is reduced, the pressure increases.

This principle, known as Boyle's law, can also be applied to the chest cavity. The volume of air in the alveoli changes passively when the volume of the chest cavity changes, since changes in volume lead to an increase or decrease in pressure. If the pressure inside the lungs is less than the atmospheric pressure outside, air is sucked in. If the pressure in the alveoli exceeds atmospheric pressure, air is expelled. Both processes lead to a pressure equalization between the lungs and the atmospheric pressure.

Voice training: Well-formed vibrations

What do breathing and voice have to do with each other?

The breathing system is also involved in the formation of the voice. The basic sounds of our speech are generated by the controlled exhalation of air from the lungs and its conduction through the vocal cords in the larynx. They are then modified and reinforced with the help of the mouth. The entire process is controlled from different points on the cerebral cortex.

The voice and the formation of sounds are among the most important forms of human communication. The ability to communicate through language distinguishes humans from all other living beings. All structures of the respiratory system - from the mouth and nose to the alveoli - contribute to producing tones of different volume and pitches and to amplify or change these tones in such a way that an understandable language emerges from them.

How do tones arise?

By vibrating the vocal cords during exhalation. The two pairs of folds of fibrous tissue, the upper and lower vocal cords (Ligamenti vocali), extend in the larynx from front to back. The upper pair of folds, the pocket folds or "false" vocal cords, close when swallowing so that no chunks of food can get into the larynx. The lower pair of folds, the "real" vocal cords or vocal folds, are responsible for voice production. The glottis lies between the vocal cords. During normal breathing, the glottis remains wide open so that air can freely enter the lungs. To create tones or sounds, the larynx muscles attached to the cartilage contract, thereby changing the tension in the vocal cords. This reduces the distance between the vocal cords and the glottis narrows or closes.

Sounds arise during exhalation. When the air flows out through the larynx, the vocal cords tighten. The air flowing past sets the vocal cords vibrating. This creates additional vibrations, namely sound waves, in the throat, nose and oral cavity. The resulting sounds can be perceived by the polluter and bystanders.

Why do men have a deeper voice?

In men, the vocal cords are longer and thicker than in women, they vibrate more slowly and therefore produce a deeper voice.

The pitch depends on the number of vibrations of the vocal cords. High notes are created by tight vocal cords and a narrow glottis. The tones become deeper as the tension in the vocal cords and the glottis expand However, the notes produced by the vocal cords are always a combination of different pitches. Overall, women's and children's voices are higher than men's.

What does the volume of a sound depend on?

It depends on the strength of the air current flowing through the vocal cords. When screaming, air is forced through the vocal cords, causing strong vibrations and loud sounds. When whispering, the vibration of the vocal cords is barely noticeable because the strength of the air flow is so low. The fundamental tone that arises in the vocal cords is reinforced by the resonance space in the mouth, nasal and pharynx cavities as well as in the paranasal sinuses. In this way - as with a large organ - different, characteristic soundscapes are created.

How is language formed from sounds?

The tones produced by the vocal cords are modified and amplified by the coordinated activity of various organs responsible for making sounds. This creates language. Different voices (Vowels) and consonants (Consonants) arise from the change in the shape of the oral cavity and from the narrowing or widening of the throat entrance. The lips and tongue also play an important role in sound formation.

How is voice training controlled?

The formation of voices and sounds requires precisely timed contractions of the most varied of muscles, including the respiratory muscles, the larynx muscles and the tongue, lip and face muscles. Voice control takes place from at least five fields on the cerebral cortex. The Broca language center, which is usually located on the left side of the brain, controls the muscles of the face, tongue, throat and jaw and sends impulses with instructions to these muscles via the motor cortical field. The Broca language center receives additional information from the Wernicke center, which is also mostly on the left side of the brain.

Did you know that …

a person's individual voice is shaped by the shape of their face

Do you hear your own voice like no other? When we speak, our skull bones and the various tissues in the head area also interfere in the transmission of sounds to the brain. A tape recording of your own voice will tell you how you sound to others.

Can't hum when you hold your nose? The humming sound generated by the vocal cords only occurs when the mouth is closed and when you slowly exhale through your nose. The paranasal sinuses are also made to vibrate.

Stutterers can sing without stumbling? And that the repeatedly interrupted flow of language is a predominantly male problem? 80 percent of adult stutterers are men. The cause of this language disorder is still unclear.

Smoking: No. 1 cause of illness

What makes tobacco smoke so harmful?

Tobacco smoke contains around 200 known toxic substances. The addictive nicotine acts as a stimulant and stimulates the release of adrenaline, which in the long run leads to high blood pressure. The tar substances in tobacco smoke cause chronic irritation of the respiratory tract. They are considered to be the main cause of lung cancer. Carbon monoxide, another component of tobacco smoke, hinders the supply of oxygen to the tissues of the body. The chemical irritants contained in the smoke accelerate the hardening of the arteries in the heart and legs. Smoking damages the walls of the alveoli and the ciliated epithelium of the trachea and bronchial lining, which is supposed to remove mucus, bacteria and other foreign particles from the body.

What diseases does smoking cause?

Since the pollutants reach the lungs directly with the air we breathe, smoking mainly causes lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and lung cancer. But other organ systems are also affected. In Europe, over half a million deaths each year are attributed to smoking. In addition to respiratory diseases, smoking causes cardiovascular diseases in particular, among others. Diseases of the coronary arteries, and increases the individual risk of cancer many times over. This applies to all types of cancer, but especially mouth, throat, larynx and lung cancer, esophageal cancer, and bladder and pancreatic cancer. Damaged arteries also increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

How does chronic bronchitis manifest itself?

Through an overproduction of mucus as a result of inflamed bronchi and bronchioles. The walls thicken and the mucus can no longer drain through the narrowed airways. Changes in the mucous membrane and the consistency of the mucus also make the airways susceptible to infections, which further damage the lungs. With chronic bronchitis, large amounts of mucus are coughed up every day, especially in the cold season. The recurring cough is accompanied by shortness of breath and wheezing.

What is emphysema?

Not only smoking, but also heavy air pollution causes this disease, also known as pneumonia. First of all, it leads to the enlargement of the alveoli, and then to the gradual destruction of their walls. Eventually the vesicles burst. What remains is a smaller number of larger alveolar sacs. As a result, however, the overall surface area for gas exchange in the lungs is reduced, so that the effectiveness of breathing is also reduced. Once the alveoli have been destroyed, the lung damage can no longer be repaired. Emphysema causes shortness of breath.

Can Lung Cancer Be Cured?

Despite wide-ranging therapies, the survival rate for lung cancer is extremely low. Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer. The experts see smoking as the main cause of the disease. In lung cancer, a malignant tumor develops in the lungs, which severely affects their ability to function. Lung cancer manifests itself as a persistent cough (in 80 percent of sufferers), coughing up blood, shortness of breath, chest pain and wheezing. The malignant tumors can also spread to the tissue surrounding the lungs and lead to pneumonia, fluid build-up between the pleura and pulmonary membrane, and lung collapse. Secondary tumors often spread to other areas of the body, mainly the liver, brain, and bones.

How can you protect your respiratory organs?

A healthy lifestyle and other measures can prevent a large part of the respiratory tract damage and diseases:

  • Get used to smoking.
  • A healthy diet, regular physical activity and a lifestyle that is as stress-free as possible strengthen the immune system.
  • To avoid colds and secondary diseases such as bronchitis, ensure that you eat a diet rich in vitamin C and that your feet are warm and dry.
  • Allergy sufferers who suffer from asthma should take their medication regularly and avoid known allergens as much as possible.

What are the consequences of smoking during pregnancy?

Medical studies highlight the far-reaching risks of nicotine addiction: Pregnant women who smoke are more likely to have premature births. Your children usually have a lower birth weight, suffer more from breathing problems and are also prone to other complications. Later, too, children of smoking parents suffer more often from respiratory diseases, e.g. B. asthma, bronchitis, colds and ear infections. You are at an increased risk of later becoming a smoker yourself.