Breathing rate or Respiratory rate is the number of breaths a person takes per minute and is usually measured when a person is at rest. Breathing usually takes place without your conscious awareness but you should not be doing it too fast or too slow. Here are 7 facts about respiratory rate that you might not know.
1. You can voluntarily control your breathing. The conscious control of breathing is under the direction of an area of the brain known as the cerebral cortex, which controls all voluntary muscle movement.
2. The brain is the primary controller of respiratory rate. It receives input from sensors that detect oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood.
3. The amount of carbon dioxide in the blood is a primary influence on respiratory rate. As your activity level increases, your cells (especially muscles cells) produce increased amounts of carbon dioxide. When the brain detects increased carbon dioxide, your respiratory rate increases to eliminate the excess.
4. Certain prescription drugs, such as narcotic pain relievers and sedatives can depress respiratory rates. High levels of alcohol have the same effect. Hence, respiratory arrest is the most common cause of death in alcohol poisoning and narcotic drug overdose.
5. At high altitude, the lack of oxygen in the atmosphere can cause an increase in the breathing rate (hyperventilation) of those who are not used to being active at high sea levels.
6. When you smoke, carbon monoxide binds to red blood cells and displaced oxygen which prevents its delivery to the muscles and other body tissues. This causes an increase in lactic acid that causes fatigue and heavier breathing.
7. A number of physical endurance studies have shown that smokers reach exhaustion before non-smokers do and can’t run as far or as fast as non-smokers. Smokers also suffered from shortness of breath almost three times as often as non-smoker.
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