During inspiration, the contraction of the diaphragm occurs which increases the size of the thoracic cavity, and the external intercostal muscle also contracts which results in increasing the size of the Thorax cavity. This increased capacity of the thorax will allow the lungs to expand and this leads to a fall in the partial pressure of oxygen which is the increase in the negative pressure. The low partial pressure of oxygen within the lungs will cause the diffusion of oxygen from the atmosphere into the lungs occurs. The process of expiration starts as soon as the inspiration process ends. During this process, the external intercostal muscles relax and the diaphragm also contracts which results in the reduction in their size of the thoracic cavity and this causes the lungs to become deflated. This expels the carbon dioxide from the lungs into the atmosphere.
Lung Volumes and Lung Capacities
The change in the partial pressure of oxygen and carbon dioxide is essential for the inflow and expel of gases between the lungs and the atmosphere. The exchange of gases between the lungs and the atmosphere depends on the volume and the capacity of the lungs. Lung volume is classified into the following:
Tidal volume is the volume of air taken in during inspiration and expelled out during expiration this volume lies within ranges of 300-500 ml for an adult
Inspiratory reserve volume is the volume of air that can be inhaled forcibly after a normal inspiration and this value is above the tidal volume. 1900-3300 ml is the inspiratory reserve volume for an adult.
Expiratory reserve volume is the volume of air that is expelled forcefully after normal expiration this lies between 700-1200 ml.
Residual volume is a volume of gas that remains in the lungs after the Expiratory reserve volume that is after a forceful expiration.
Forced vital capacity the amount or volume of air that can be expired after the maximum inspiration and it is measured as the sum of expiratory reserve volume, tidal volume, and inspiratory reserve volume.
Inspiratory capacity is the maximum volume of air that is inspired after normal breathing and is calculated by the addition of tidal volume, and inspiratory reserve volume.
Functional residual capacity is there air volume that remains after exhalation and it is given by the sum of residual volume and expiratory reserve volume.
Total lung capacity total amount of air that a lung can withhold and it includes the sum of all the lung volumes.
Regulation of Respiration
The partial pressure of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood is maintained by the regulation of respiration. Regulation is mediated by two pathways
Neural control: Medulla Oblongata: It is one of the key respiratory control centers. It sends impulses to the respiratory muscle and the breathing process is regulated. It consists of two groups of neurons namely the ventral respiratory group which is responsible for the diaphragm (expiratory muscle) movement during expiration and the dorsal respiratory group which triggers the inspiratory movement of the diaphragm (inspiratory muscle). Coughing, sneezing, swallowing and vomiting are under the influence of medulla oblongata. Pons: The pons lies below the medulla and regulates the rate of respiration. There are two neuron center namely,
The apneustic center transfers impulse for inspiration of deep and long breaths. It regulates the intensity of breathing and the signal from this center is inhibited by the stretch receptors found in the lung muscles or by an impulse from the pnuemotaxic center. It upregulates tidal volume.
The pnuemotaxic center inhibits the inspiration thereby controlling the respiratory rate. It restricts the impulse generated from the apneustic center. It downregulates tidal volume. Thus both the pnuemotaxic and apneustic centers help in the regulation of respiratory rate.
Chemoreceptor control: These receptors are found in the medulla oblongata and in carotid and aortic bodies of the blood vessels which recognize the changes in the pH of the blood and the partial pressure of oxygen and carbon dioxide. These receptors act as sensors and send impulses to the respiratory center (integrating center), where the information is processed and transmits signals to either increase or decrease the rate and intensity of breathing.
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