Breathing

Free Response

How would increased airway resistance affect intrapleural pressure during inhalation?

Hint:

Increased airway resistance increases the volume and pressure in the lung; therefore, the intrapleural pressure would be less negative and breathing would be more difficult.

Explain how a puncture to the thoracic cavity (from a knife wound, for instance) could alter the ability to inhale.

Hint:

A puncture to the thoracic cavity would equalize the pressure inside the thoracic cavity to the outside environment. For the lung to function properly, the intrapleural pressure must be negative. This is caused by the contraction of the diaphragm pulling the lungs down and drawing air into the lungs.

When someone is standing, gravity stretches the bottom of the lung down toward the floor to a greater extent than the top of the lung. What implication could this have on the flow of air in the lungs? Where does gas exchange occur in the lungs?

Hint:

The lung is particularly susceptible to changes in the magnitude and direction of gravitational forces. When someone is standing or sitting upright, the pleural pressure gradient leads to increased ventilation further down in the lung.