The airways represent a unique organ system in the body. Their structure allowing air to come into close contact with blood is one of the principal adaptations permitting the existence of terrestrial life. This adaptation also makes the airways useful as a route of administration of drugs in the inhaled, or aerosol, form. This chapter provides an overview of the physiology of the airways, excluding the nasopharyngeal regions of the airways. Aspects considered relevant to the practical and theoretical application of inhaled substances are emphasized.
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If you suffer with asthma, you will no doubt be familiar with the uncomfortable sensations as your bronchial tubes begin to narrow and your muscles around them start to tighten. A sticky mucus known as phlegm begins to produce and increase within your bronchial tubes and you begin to wheeze, cough and struggle to breathe.