Breathing (or respiration, or ventilation) is the process of moving air into and out of the lungs to facilitate gas exchange with the internal environment, mostly by bringing in oxygen and flushing out carbon dioxide.
All aerobic creatures need oxygen for cellular respiration, which uses the oxygen to break down foods for energy and produces carbon dioxide as a waste product. Breathing, or “external respiration”, brings air into the lungs where gas exchange takes place in the alveoli through diffusion. The body’s circulatory system transports these gasses to and from the cells, where “cellular respiration” takes place.
The breathing of all vertebrates with lungs consists of repetitive cycles of inhalation and exhalation through a highly branched system of tubes or airways which lead from the nose to the alveoli. The number of respiratory cycles per minute is the breathing or respiratory rate, and is one of the four primary vital signs of life. Under normal conditions the breathing depth and rate is automatically, and unconsciously, controlled by several homeostatic mechanisms which keep the partial pressures of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the arterial blood constant. Keeping the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the arterial blood unchanged under a wide variety of physiological circumstances, contributes significantly to tight control of the pH of the extracellular fluids (ECF). Over-breathing (hyperventilation) and under-breathing (hypoventilation), which decrease and increase the arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide respectively, cause a rise in the pH of ECF in the first case, and a lowering of the pH in the second. Both cause distressing symptoms.
Breathing has other important functions. It provides a mechanism for speech, laughter and similar expressions of the emotions. It is also used for reflexes such as yawning, coughing and sneezing. Animals that cannot thermoregulate by perspiration, because they lack sufficient sweat glands, may lose heat by evaporation through panting.
present participle of breathe
The act of respiration; a single instance of this.
A diacritical mark indicating aspiration or lack thereof.
Time to recover one’s breath; hence, a delay, a spell of time.
Any gentle influence or operation; inspiration.
“the breathings of the Holy Spirit”
Aspiration; secret prayer.
The process of inhaling and exhaling; breathing, breath.
An act of breathing; a breath.
Any similar process in an organism that lacks lungs that exchanges gases with its environment.
The process by which cells obtain chemical energy by the consumption of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide.