The most important function of the lungs is to take oxygen from the environment and transfer it into the bloodstream. By taking more than 6 million breaths a year, the lungs affect every aspect of our bodies and our health. Every cell in the body needs oxygen to live. The air we breathe contains oxygen and other gases.
Once in the lungs, oxygen moves into the bloodstream and is transported throughout the body. In every cell of the body, oxygen is exchanged for a waste gas called carbon dioxide. The bloodstream carries this waste gas back to the lungs, where it is removed from the bloodstream and exhaled. The lungs and respiratory system automatically carry out this vital process, called gas exchange.
The lungs and respiratory system allow us to breathe. They bring oxygen into our bodies (called inspiration or inhalation) and expel carbon dioxide (called expiration or exhalation). The lungs are the centre of the respiratory system. Every cell in the body needs oxygen to stay alive and healthy.
The body also needs to get rid of carbon dioxide. This gas is a waste product made by cells during normal, everyday functions. The lungs are specially designed to exchange these gases every time you inhale and exhale. We all know that the lungs are one of our most important organs.
They carry vital oxygen to the body and remove gases such as carbon dioxide. Although the lungs are so vital, many people don't know exactly how they work. Learning the individual parts of the lungs and their roles in the respiratory system allows patients to understand exactly how their breathing works. This can help explain how certain disorders of the respiratory system affect the body and how they can be treated.
How do our lungs work? The most important muscle for inhalation is the diaphragm. Located below the lungs, the diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle. When this muscle tightens (contracts), it flattens and the lungs become larger. This sucks air down into the lungs.
The air pressure in the chest cavity and lungs is reduced, and as gas flows from high to low pressure, air from the environment flows through the nose or mouth into the lungs. This causes the lungs to shrink in size, so that air is expelled from the lungs and out through the mouth or nose. Each lung is divided into lobes; the right lung consists of the upper, middle and lower lobes. Many factors, such as genetics, pollutants and irritants, and infectious diseases, can affect the health of the lungs and respiratory system and cause breathing problems.
The air pressure in the lungs increases, so air is forced out of the lungs and up and out of the respiratory system through the nose or mouth. Pneumonia causes fever, inflammation of lung tissue and makes breathing more difficult because the lungs have to work harder to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream and remove carbon dioxide from the blood. The lungs themselves contain only the bronchi (large air tubes), bronchioles (small air tubes) and alveoli (air sacs), but the pharynx (back of the throat) and trachea are also important for lung function.