Structure of the lungs

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Structure of the lungs
(Wikimedia Commons)

The lungs are part of the respiratory system and help the body take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Every time a person takes a breath, his lungs fill with air and help carry oxygen to his bloodstream. Lung composition involves compartments called lobes, which house the smaller components of the lungs. The lungs work with other parts of the respiratory system to maximise oxygen intake.

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The lungs are part of the respiratory system and help the body take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Every time a person takes a breath, his lungs fill with air and help carry oxygen to his bloodstream. Lung composition involves compartments called lobes, which house the smaller components of the lungs. The lungs work with other parts of the respiratory system to maximise oxygen intake.

According to the Ohio State University Medical Center, the lungs are 90% air and 10% tissue. The lungs are divided into lobes, with the right lung having three lobes and the left lung having two lobes. In order to make room for the heart, the left lung is slightly smaller than the right lung. The process of breathing starts with the airway. Once breath enters the body through the nose and mouth, the air goes through the trachea and enters into the bronchi. The bronchi are two tubes that carry air into the lungs. The larger bronchi break down into smaller branches, called bronchioles. At the end of the bronchioles are tiny air sacs call alveoli, which absorb oxygen from the air. The lungs are protected by a fluid cushioning system called the pleura, which also helps to keep the lungs separated from the chest cavity.

The diaphragm is a muscle directly below the lungs. During an indrawn breath, the diaphragm contracts and allows the chest cavity to expand as the lungs fill with air. Muscles between the ribs, called intercostal muscles, work in sync with the diaphragm by pulling the rib cage away from the chest cavity so that the lungs can fill with air. Abdominal muscles can also help with the function of the lungs. When a person breathes rapidly due to physical activity, the abdominal muscles push against the diaphragm to increase the speed of exhalation. The lungs may also depend upon muscles in the neck and collarbone if the lung has damage or disease that impairs other muscles in the respiratory system.

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