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Breathing - A Detailed Summary

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Why We Cannot Breath Underwater?

When we go underwater, we automatically stop breathing, yet water actually carries oxygen. How can fish breathe oxygen while we have to bring our own cylinders down to sea level? Also, if oxygen is found in the air, then why can't fish do the same?

The answer is the difference between terrestrial and marine respiration. When a human breathes, air containing oxygen and carbon dioxide travels from the nose, down the trachea, and into the lungs. In the lungs, air travels through the bronchi until they become so thin that oxygen can pass through the lung membranes and into the blood. A few seconds after ingesting glucose, blood cells release carbon dioxide into the exhaled air.

The Science Behind Breathing Underwater

Covalently bound hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water molecules require more energy to break apart and release oxygen. The human lung lining isn't meant for such a process, and a person would die before getting enough oxygen to resume breathing. Also, oxygen in its atomic state is not good for the lungs. Air has 20 times more oxygen than water, thus extracting dissolved oxygen from water is difficult. Fish are cold-blooded; therefore, they need less oxygen to breathe underwater.

Warm-blooded marine creatures, such as whales and dolphins, have trouble obtaining adequate oxygen through gills. Fish need oxygen to survive, but they don't breathe H2O; their gills collect dissolved oxygen from water. Several gasses can dissolve in liquids, as shown in carbonated soft drinks, which generate bubbles when opened. Some amphibians, including tadpoles, use their nostrils for breathing, like fish gills. Because amphibian tadpoles grow in water.

Liquid Breathing

Liquid breathing or water breathing is a type of respiration in which an organism that normally breathes air instead breathes an oxygen-rich liquid, like a perfluorocarbon. To facilitate gas exchange, a liquid suitable for maintaining substantial volumes of oxygen and carbon dioxide must be chosen.

Some perfluorochemicals (PFCs) have the right physical properties, such as the ability to dissolve gasses in the lungs, density, viscosity, vapor pressure, and the ability to dissolve lipids. So, it is very important to choose the right PFC for a specific biomedical application, such as liquid ventilation, drug delivery, or blood substitutes. PFC liquids have a wide range of physical properties, but they all have one thing in common: they dissolve respiratory gasses very well. These liquids carry more carbon dioxide and oxygen than blood does.

In theory, liquid breathing could help treat people who have severe damage to their lungs or hearts, especially children. Some people have also thought that liquid breathing could be used for deep diving and space travel. Even though liquid ventilation has made some progress recently, there is still no standard way to use it.

Duration of Breath Holding

The normal breath holding time of a person to hold their breath, while doing so deliberately, spans anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds. Breath-holding is a skill that can be trained to help an individual expand their lung capacity, and there are training recommendations available to assist with this goal. The training process typically takes a few months. These training methods could be utilized for advanced military training, free diving, swimming, or other recreational pursuits.

Importance of Breath Holding Time

  • Patients can try to hold their breath for longer periods of time by practicing once every hour.

  • The breath holding time normal values are 25 seconds and are safe.

  • A person needs to be careful not to overexert themselves.

  • Holding your breath has been shown in some early animal studies to aid in repairing brain injury.

  • In some cases, inflammation can be reduced by practicing specific breathing techniques, one of which is holding one's breath.

  • Regular relaxation practice can include certain breathing techniques in which you hold your breath for many seconds. It has the potential to boost cardiovascular health as well.

Why is It Advisable to Breathe Through Nose?

The structure of your nose is optimized for healthy, effective breathing. This is possible because:

  • Your nasal hair acts as a filter, trapping dust, allergies, and pollen before they may enter your lungs.

  • When you breathe through your nose, it warms the air and adds moisture to it. This makes the air we breathe in more comfortable for the lungs because it is closer to your body temperature.

  • Inhaling through the nose releases nitric oxide, which has various health benefits. As a vasodilator, nitric oxide (NO) aids in the dilation of blood vessels. This can boost oxygen flow throughout your body.

How to Breath Underwater?

  • Inhale through your mouth and exhale through your nose until it seems natural.

  • Many swimmers shake their heads to breathe out of the side of their mouths.

  • However, you should only tilt your head to one side while breathing in through your mouth, and then turn your head back and exhale slowly through your nose.

  • Take time to practise lap swimming before venturing out.

How to Increase Breath Holding Capacity?

  • Diaphragmatic breathing, or "stomach breathing," uses the diaphragm to conduct most of the breathing work.

  • Pursed-lips breathing slows breathing and keeps airways open longer, minimizing work. This enhances lung function and oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange.

  • Yoga is a workout routine that mixes motion and relaxation techniques.

  • Learning these breathing exercises and practicing them regularly may help control asthma symptoms. Patients may also need less asthma medication.

Interesting Facts

  • Insects breathe through tracheae as they do not have lungs.

  • The maximum breathing capacity is 6 liters.

  • Our lungs get slightly older at the age of 20-25.

Key Features

  • In water breathing, the organism breathes oxygen-rich liquid.

  • The normal breath-holding time is 25 seconds.

  • Nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator.

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FAQs on Breathing - A Detailed Summary

1. Why can't humans breathe underwater if the water contains hydrogen and oxygen?

We cannot breathe water because the oxygen required to generate it is linked to two hydrogen atoms. The oxygen is useless to our lungs in this condition.

2. How do you measure lung capacity?

Spirometry tests lung capacity. Spirometry data are used to diagnose COPD or asthma and to measure breathing improvement after treatment.

3. How should one breathe during swimming?

While swimming, a person should try breathing through the mouth as it is much safer and more efficient than breathing through the nose alone. 

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