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The respiratory system is a key area to learn about as a doctor: 1 in 7 of us have a chronic respiratory problem, and 1 in 5 people in the UK die from a respiratory complaint![1].


Air passes through the nasal cavity through the larynx (next to the pharynx), down the old trachea and into the lungs.

Surrounding the lungs are the two layers of pleura.


Air passes in and out due to changes in pressure. At the capillary beds in the lungs, the oxygen is taken into haemoglobin, and the CO2 leaves it. Read the page on lung function to learn more!


Also known as "When Lungs Go Wrong!". The most important to know about for your exams are Asthma and COPD.

Also worth learning about are respiratory complaints, such as cough/sputum, haemoptysis (cough with blood), shortness of breath, stridor and wheeze.


  1. British Lung Foundation - facts about respiratory conditions - : Access date 29/02/11