Ask Difference

Ingestion vs. Inhalation — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Fiza Rafique — Updated on May 9, 2024
Ingestion involves taking substances into the body through the mouth, typically for digestion, whereas inhalation refers to breathing substances into the lungs, mainly for respiratory processes.
Ingestion vs. Inhalation — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Ingestion and Inhalation


Key Differences

Ingestion is the process of consuming food or other substances via the mouth, leading to digestion and absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. On the other hand, inhalation involves drawing air or other substances into the lungs, primarily for gas exchange in respiration.
While ingestion primarily serves the nutritional needs of the body, inhalation is crucial for obtaining oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide.
In the context of harmful substances, ingestion can lead to poisoning or infection if the substances are toxic or contaminated, whereas inhalation of harmful substances, such as smoke or chemicals, can cause respiratory issues or systemic health problems.
Ingestion often involves a deliberate act of eating or drinking, while inhalation can occur both intentionally, such as with inhalation therapy, and unintentionally, like inhaling smoke in a fire. Safety measures for ingestion focus on dietary choices and food safety practices, whereas those for inhalation emphasize air quality and respiratory protection.

Comparison Chart

Primary Function

Nutrient absorption and digestion
Gas exchange and respiratory system support

Substances Involved

Food, drinks, medications, and other edible materials
Air, gases, vapors, and particulate matter

Health Implications

Digestive issues, nutritional benefits or poisoning
Respiratory issues, oxygen intake or toxic exposure


Usually intentional (eating/drinking)
Can be intentional (breathing exercises) or unintentional (smoke)

Protective Measures

Dietary choices, food safety
Respiratory protection, air quality management

Compare with Definitions


The act of swallowing food or other substances through the mouth.
Ingestion of contaminated food can lead to food poisoning.


The unintentional intake of smoke or dust during fires or dust storms.
Inhalation of smoke during the fire caused him severe coughing.


The consumption of liquids or solids through the mouth.
He was advised to monitor his ingestion of sugars and fats.


The process of breathing in airborne substances, potentially harmful.
Inhalation of toxic fumes can be life-threatening.


The process by which food is taken into the body for digestion and absorption.
Proper ingestion and digestion are crucial for good health.


The act of drawing breath or other substances into the lungs.
Inhalation of fresh air is vital after indoor activities.


The deliberate introduction of materials into the stomach.
Ingestion of too much alcohol can cause adverse effects.


The absorption of aerosol medications through respiratory organs.
Inhalation of bronchodilators is common in asthma management.


The oral intake of substances, including medications.
The ingestion of antibiotics helps combat bacterial infections.


The intake of air, gases, or vapors through the nose or mouth into the lungs.
Inhalation therapy is used for treating respiratory conditions.


Ingestion is the consumption of a substance by an organism. In animals, it normally is accomplished by taking in a substance through the mouth into the gastrointestinal tract, such as through eating or drinking.


Inhalation happens when air or other gases enter the lungs.


To take into the body by the mouth for digestion or absorption.


The act or an instance of inhaling.


To take in and absorb as food
"Marine ciliates ... can be observed ... ingesting other single-celled creatures and harvesting their chloroplasts" (Carol Kaesuk Yoon).


An inhalant.


The action of ingesting, or consuming something orally, whether it be food, drink, medicine, or other substance. It is usually referred to as the first step of digestion.


The act of inhaling; inbreathing.


(by extension) The act of ingesting something into a jet engine.


The substance (medicament) which is inhaled.


The act of taking or putting into the stomach; as, the ingestion of milk or other food.


The act of inhaling; also, that which is inhaled.


The process of taking food into the body through the mouth (as by eating)


The act of inhaling; the drawing in of air (or other gases) as in breathing


A medication to be taken by inhaling it

Common Curiosities

Can ingestion and inhalation occur unintentionally?

While ingestion usually occurs intentionally, inhalation can be both intentional and unintentional.

How does ingestion affect the body?

Ingestion allows for nutrient absorption and digestion, essential for energy and growth.

How can one prevent hazards associated with ingestion?

Ensuring food safety and being cautious about what is consumed can prevent ingestion hazards.

How can one prevent hazards associated with inhalation?

Using respiratory protection and ensuring good air quality can mitigate inhalation risks.

What is ingestion?

Ingestion is the process of taking substances into the body through the mouth for digestion.

What are the risks associated with inhalation of toxic substances?

Inhalation of toxic substances can lead to respiratory problems, systemic health issues, or acute poisoning.

What is inhalation?

Inhalation is the act of breathing in air or other substances into the lungs.

What substances are commonly inhaled?

Air, smoke, gases, and medical aerosols are examples of commonly inhaled substances.

What substances are commonly ingested?

Foods, drinks, and medications are commonly ingested substances.

What is the difference between deliberate and unintentional inhalation?

Deliberate inhalation includes controlled breathing or therapeutic inhalation, while unintentional involves inhaling harmful substances accidentally.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Previous Comparison
Prophase vs. Metaphase
Next Comparison
Pot vs. Pitcher

Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms