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Inhalation and Exhalation


Updated June 02, 2014

Ventilation is the overall term to describe that oxygen is coming into the body, and carbon dioxide is leaving the body. The lungs are the central exchange place for ventilation to occur. The mechanical processes that support ventilation are two-fold:
  • inhalation - the lungs inflate with air, bringing oxygen into the body
  • exhalation - the lungs let go of air, releasing carbon dioxide out into the environment

The lungs work automatically during inhalation and exhalation, expanding as breath is needed by the body, and recoiling to expel the unwanted air when it is not.

There are muscles that help to make room for the expanding and contracting lungs in the chest cavity and trunk. Because they are muscles, they work under conscious and semi-conscious control to have a major impact on the quality of the act of breathing. These are called the respiratory muscles. The respiratory muscles play a big role in body posture, as well.

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