The lungs are a vital organ, allowing your body to take oxygen in from the air and expel carbon dioxide, which can be toxic, from your body.
The Respiratory System
The lungs are a part of the respiratory system which is made up of organs and tissues that allow you to breathe. There are three main parts of the respiratory system – The airways, the lungs and linked blood vessels, and the muscles surrounding the lungs.
- Airways – Carry oxygen-rich air to your lungs and carry carbon dioxide out of your lungs
- Lungs and Blood Vessels – Deliver oxygen to your body and remove carbon dioxide from your body
- Muscles – The muscles near the lungs help expand and contract the lungs
The Breathing Process
When you breathe, the muscles around your lungs contract, increasing the space in your chest cavity so your lungs can expand. Air is then sucked in through your nose or mouth, traveling down your windpipe and bronchial tubes and through your lungs. Meanwhile cilia, fine hairs, trap germs and foreign particles during this process. After passing through your bronchial tubes, air reaches the air sacs, called alveoli. The alveoli walls are very thin, allowing oxygen to pass to surrounding blood vessels. A protein in the red blood cells, hemoglobin, helps move oxygen from the alveoli to the bloodstream. This oxygen-rich blood is then carried through the pulmonary vein to the left-side of the heart, which then pumps this blood to the rest of the body.
Breathing out usually requires no effort. However, if you have a lung disease, asthma, nerve damage, blood clots or other lung issues, breathing in and out will be harder for you. For more information on why it is more difficult, visit our lung library or call us today at 1-800-220-1990.