How does carbon dioxide travel through the body? It’s a question that scientists are still trying to answer. But, there are some theories out there that can help us understand how this gas moves through our system.
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How Carbon Dioxide Travels Through the Body
Carbon dioxide is produced in the body as a waste product of cellular respiration. It is carried in the blood to the lungs, where it is exhaled. During exercise, breathing rate increases and more carbon dioxide is expelled.
The Respiratory System
The respiratory system is a network of organs and tissues that work together to help you breathe. When you breathe in, or inhale, your diaphragm contracts and moves downward. This increases the space in your chest cavity, into which your lungs expand. The air pressure inside your lungs is now greater than the atmospheric pressure outside of your body, so air flows into your lungs until the two pressures are equalized.
The pathway that air takes into your body begins with your nose or mouth and ends at the alveoli, which are tiny air sacs in your lungs. As air moves through this pathway, it passes through the pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles before reaching the alveoli.
When you breathe out, or exhale, your diaphragm relaxes and moves back up into your chest cavity. This decreases the space in your chest cavity and causes the atmospheric pressure inside your lungs to be greater than the air pressure outside of your body. As a result, air flows out of your lungs until the two pressures are equalized.
The Circulatory System
Carbon dioxide is carried in the blood from the tissues to the lungs, where it is exhaled. The process by which carbon dioxide is transported in the blood is known as chemical buffering. This involves the combination of carbonic acid (H2CO3) and hemoglobin, which forms carbaminohemoglobin. When carbon dioxide enters the blood from the tissues, it combines with water to form carbonic acid. This carbonic acid then dissociates into bicarbonate ions and hydrogen ions. The bicarbonate ions combine with hemoglobin to form carbaminohemoglobin, while the hydrogen ions combine with oxyhemoglobin to form oxyhemoglobin-acids.
The Digestive System
Gas exchange occurs in the lungs, where oxygen from the air is taken up by the blood and carbon dioxide produced by the body’s cells is released into the air. The process of gas exchange is known as respiration.
Carbon dioxide diffuses across the cell membranes of all the body’s cells and enters the bloodstream. The blood transports carbon dioxide to the lungs, where it is exhaled.
The digestive system also plays a role in carbon dioxide transport. When food is digested in the intestines, carbon dioxide is produced as a by-product. This carbon dioxide diffuses into the bloodstream and is carried to the lungs, where it is exhaled.
The Excretory System
The excretory system is a network of organs and tissues that work together to rid the body of wastes and to maintain fluid balance.
The main organs of the excretory system are the kidneys, which remove wastes and excess fluids from the blood. Urine is produced by the kidneys andcollects in the bladder. The bladder stores urine until it is ready to be eliminated from the body.
Other organs of the excretory system include the liver, which filters toxins from the blood; the skin, which eliminates wastes through sweating; and the lungs, which expel carbon dioxide through exhalation.
The Immune System
The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from foreign invaders. These foreign invaders can be harmful bacteria, viruses, or other substances that can cause illness or disease.
The immune system is constantly on the lookout for these foreign invaders. When it finds one, it springs into action. First, it produces antibodies to fight the invader. Then, it sends out white blood cells to destroy the invader. Finally, it creates a memory of the invader so that if it comes back, the immune system will be prepared to fight it again.
Foreign invaders are not the only things that the immune system protects us from. It also helps to keep our bodies healthy by fighting off infection and injury.
The Nervous System
Carbon dioxide is transported in the blood in three different ways. About 70 percent of carbon dioxide is transported as bicarbonate ions. Bicarbonate ions are created when carbon dioxide and water combine in the blood. The bicarbonate ions are then carried to the lungs, where they are exhaled.
About 20 percent of carbon dioxide is carried in the blood as oxyhemoglobin. Oxyhemoglobin is created when oxygen and hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells, bond together. When oxyhemoglobin reaches the tissues, it releases oxygen and picks up carbon dioxide, which it carries back to the lungs.
The final 10 percent of carbon dioxide is carried in the blood as plasma. Plasma is the liquid component of blood, and it consists of water, electrolytes, nutrients and enzymes. Carbon dioxide dissolves in plasma and is carried to the lungs, where it is exhaled.
The Endocrine System
The endocrine system is a network of glands that produce and release hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones regulate many important bodily functions, such as metabolism, growth, and reproduction.
The glands of the endocrine system include the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, pancreas, ovaries (in women), and testes (in men). Hormones are chemical messenger molecules that are produced by the body’s tissues in response to various stimuli. They travel through the bloodstream to target tissues, where they bind to specific receptor proteins and elicit a biological response.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced by all cells in the body as a by-product of cellular metabolism. CO2 is transported in the blood to the lungs, where it is expelled from the body during respiration.
The Muscular System
When carbon dioxide enters the bloodstream, it binds to hemoglobin, which is a protein found in red blood cells. This process is called carbonic anhydrase. Hemoglobin then transports the carbon dioxide to the lungs, where it is exhaled.
The Skeletal System
Gas exchange primarily takes place in the alveoli, which are tiny air sacs in the lungs. When we inhale, air pressure forces the alveoli to expand and fill with air. The alveoli are surrounded by a network of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. The walls of the alveoli and capillaries are only one cell thick, which makes it easy for oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass through them.
Oxygen diffuses across the walls of the alveoli and enters the bloodstream where it binds to hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells). Carbon dioxide diffuses from the bloodstream into the alveoli and is exhaled.