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Throat and Mouth

Breathing

by Sal Taliercio, M.D.

Airway and Breathing

Breathing is a complex process involving the airway, lungs and chest wall muscles. Multiple organs systems must work in concert to allow for the passage of air into the lungs, where oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide. Along the upper airway, the vocal cords must open to allow passage of air. When dysfunctional, the patient will have the sensation of breathing through a straw. Narrowing or scarring of the airway can occur with age, or with prior placement of a breathing tube during hospitalization or surgery. Evaluation of the upper airway is essential in working up breathing that is “noisy”, and can be performed in the office setting with flexible laryngoscopes.