1 definition by Baconfrashbacon

dead space is air that is inhaled by the body in breathing, but does not take part in gas exchange. Not all the air in each breath is able to be used for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. About a third of every resting breath is exhaled exactly as it came into the body. In adults, it is usually in the range of 150 mL.1

Because of dead space, taking deep breaths more slowly (e.g. ten 500 mL breaths per minute) is more effective than taking shallow breaths quickly (e.g. twenty 250 mL breaths per minute). Although the amount of gas per minute is the same (5 L/min), a large proportion of the shallow breaths is dead space, and does not allow oxygen to get into the blood.
EX 1: Dead space can be enlarged (and better envisaged) by breathing into a long tube. Even though one end of the tube is open to the air, when one inhales, it is mostly the carbon dioxide from expiration. Using a snorkel increases a diver's dead space in the airways.

EX 2: I totally did not just copy and paste the "dead space" article on Wikipedia
by Baconfrashbacon June 01, 2010

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