Hey party people, Amanda here with a blogpost solely dedicated to the Respiratory System and it’s functions. All EMTs must be familiar with the Respiratory System, you can’t skim past this chapter as it is super essential to know out on the field! Read along to learn some useful information to help you with your patients.

Let’s jump right in!

What is the Respiratory System? 

The Respiratory System describes the way we breathe and how we supply our bodies with oxygen. We breathe air through our lungs. The oxygen is then transferred to our blood and taken to our body. 

All EMTs should know that the air you breathe ends up in the alveoli. This is how it ends up there;

  1. Initially, the air passes through the nose or mouth and onto the trachea. 
  2. The trachea is made up of two tubes called bronchi (they are singularly called ‘bronchus’)- one headed to each lung.
  3. The bronchi split into smaller tubes called bronchioles. 
  4. Finally, the bronchioles finally end at small bags called called the alveoli. 

What is Respiratory Distress?

Respiratory distress is respiratory failure caused by rapid onset of widespread inflammation in the lungs. Patients facing respiratory distress have shortness of breath and struggle to breath without a ventilator. This is a often times a fatal condition among the elderly and severely ill. If not treated properly, respiratory distress can lead to a decreased quality of life. 

Remember, smoking does unimaginable damage to the respiratory system. This includes vaping as well! It’s best to refrain from these habits for optimal respiratory health.

Other causes of respiratory distress include airway obstruction a.k.a. choking, asthma, and inhalation injuries caused by overexertion.

Possible primary respiratory distress problems include: COPD, pleural effusion, pneumonia, and pneumothorax. 

A healthy respiratory system is vital to our overall health and a weak respiratory system can lead to major complications. Thanks for following along! And don’t forge to take big deep breaths!


EMS University 

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