With the help of our diaphragm and thoracic cavity

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reducing pressure and enabling us to draw air into our lungs. With the help of our diaphragm and thoracic cavity, our body creates a literal suction. Similarly, when we exhale, our intercostal muscles and our diaphragm relax. This causes the volume of the thoracic cavity to decrease and the pressure inside to increase, which expels the air in what is called an exhalation. Internal Respiration What is actually happening inside the body between the inhale and the exhale? That’s where internal respiration comes in. Internal respiration occurs after and during the process of external respiration, and it’s when the gases in the air we’ve drawn into our lungs can be sorted out, the oxygen absorbed in our blood and the carbon dioxide removed. This happens because our heart is pumping oxygen-low blood through the pulmonary arteries and into the lungs. At the ends of the pulmonary arteries are small blood vessels called capillaries, which wrap like a net around the alveoli. The alveoli is where our bronchial tubes transport the air we inhale. They are the round, clustered, and sac-like tips of the respiratory tree where gas exchange occurs. Inside the alveoli, the oxygen rich air we’ve inhaled is pumped into the red blood cells located in the surrounding capillaries, enriching the blood with much needed oxygen. In exchange, the red blood cells expel the carbon dioxide they’re carrying into the alveoli. Carbon dioxide is a waste product created through the process of metabolism, and too much of it in our blood can cause harm to our body. It can raise the levels of acidity in your blood, which is damaging to your heart, and even cause suffocation! When you hold your breath by inhaling and then not immediately exhaling, the reason you begin to feel
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  • Fall '19

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