Basic information | Respiratory tract | Upper respiratory tract

Upper respiratory tract

Humans must interact with our often inclement environment in order to be able to survive. At the same time, they must protect themselves against this environment. The skin and mucous membrane provide the bulwarks of defence against the environment.

The body must be protected so that the air and the particles present in the air, dust, pathogens and the like cannot harm the body. The mucous membrane performs this task in the respiratory tract.

The respiratory system begins in the nose. The nose is lined with a mucous membrane which contains a compact and closely branched network of blood vessels. In order to create as large a surface area as possible, i.e. a lot of mucous membrane, the nose is divided into a left and a right half through a partition, the nasal septum. Both sections of the nose are additionally divided into three levels by two horizontal walls, the nasal concha.

In the nose air is warmed up, moistened and cleaned of rough particles.

  • Cold or warm air is so well-regulated in the nose that the air that reaches the trachea has achieved body temperature.
  • The moist mucous helps to moisten the dry air so that the more deeply positioned surfaces of the respiratory system do not become dried out and then damaged (lacerated).
  • Dust particles and the like that are present in air remain trapped either directly in the small hairs at the opening of the nose or get caught on the sticky surface of the mucous membrane. Afterwards, they are transported out without us taking particular note of this process. Rougher particles cause an urge to sneeze and are hurled out with great force.

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