Only second to the heart, the lungs are the most active organ in the body since it is responsible for a bodily function that does not cease. Breathing is as essential as heartbeats because it ensures that the rest of the body is getting the proper amount of oxygen to allow optimal function. While the lungs obviously perform a very important task, it is quite surprising that not too many people are aware of how this organ actually function and what can be done to improve its performance and maintain healthy lungs.
For those who wish to know more about the human lungs, listed below, we outline facts about the lungs and some of the most pertinent facts about this organ. Also included is crucial information regarding respiratory diseases and how they can be prevented.
Anatomy of lungs
The lungs are a pair of organs that have a spongy texture, and filled with air. They are located on either side of the thorax (upper chest cavity), and is connected to the trachea via tubular branches. The following video shows the lung anatomy.
The lungs function and the respiratory system
The lungs are made up of smaller, some even microscopic parts, all of which have very specific functions in delivering and/or receiving oxygen.
Bronchi – this tubular branch functions as the pathway for oxygen that has been inhaled through the trachea.
Bronchioles – these are smaller branches that culminates in a cluster of microscopic air sacs called the alveoli.
Interstitium – This is a thick layer of cells that is located between the alveoli. It contains blood vessels and cells that support the air sacs.
Nose – It is the only external part of the respiratory system and is the primary receptacle for air.
Sinuses – These hollow spaces in the bones of the skull are responsible for regulating the temperature of the air that passes from the nose before it gets to the trachea.
Trachea or windpipe – This tube is the passageway for air as it travels from the nose to the lungs.
Put simply, the lungs function is responsible for absorbing and delivering oxygen to all parts of the body, via the blood vessels. It keeps up respiration so that the brain can get the oxygen it needs for controlling bodily functions such as muscle movement, reaction, and even higher thinking (cognitive responses, etc).
The lungs also act as the body’s ultimate filtration system as it expels harmful elements such as dust and other contaminants through the process of sneezing and/or coughing.
In addition, this organ is also responsible for regulating the air temperature before oxygen is distributed throughout the body in order to maintain ideal body temperature.
As you can see, the entire respiratory system comprises of almost the entire upper body (from the nose to the diaphragm). Each breathing motion affects the entire thorax (as can be seen when observing the process of inhaling and exhaling/rising and falling of the belly and chest).
Lung disease list
Respiratory illnesses are among the most common and deadly maladies in existence today. Most of these diseases are preventable, so it is important to know what they are and how they can be prevented.
This disease is caused by the infection in one or both lungs and is characterized by coughing, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, and expulsion of phlegm. Pneumonia is common in children as well as adults, and it can be deadly if not treated immediately.
The inflammation of the bronchial tubes is usually caused by constant smoking and/or exposure to secondhand smoke. This is most common in adults, but is also becoming rampant among the younger male population (between 20-30 years of age).
The swelling of the lungs is caused by the accumulation of fluid in one or both sides. This is also a very common complication in patients suffering from a degenerative heart condition, i.e. leaking valves, heart failure, defective arterial walls, etc. This is quite a serious condition since the lungs will not be able to deliver oxygen to the rest of the body if/when it is filled with fluid.
This illness is characterized by the degeneration of the tissues responsible for maintaining the proper shape and functioning of the lungs. It is common among chronic smokers, and usually involves shortness of breath and constant wheezing.
This is a genetic respiratory illness in which mucus (phlegm) is not easily expelled from the lungs, which results to frequent episodes of bronchitis and pneumonia. There is no known cure for this disease, but there are a number of symptom blockers that can help manage the condition.
More commonly known as the flu, this disease often involves fever, colds, chills, and shortness of breath. It can be deadly when not treated properly since the flu can lead to more serious complications such as pneumonia.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
is a gateway disease, which can lead to other serious illnesses such as lung cancer. It results to the inflammation and blockage of the airways, which deprives the body of much needed oxygen.
Perhaps the most serious among numerous respiratory diseases, since lung cancer has proven to be fatal especially when not diagnosed and treated early. This is often caused by chronic smoking or prolonged exposure to carcinogens (mostly inhaled).
Lung disease symptoms
Among the most common signs and symptoms that indicate that the lungs are not functioning properly are as follows:
- Persistent coughing (may or may not be accompanied by phlegm, and/or blood)
- Constant shortness of breath even without physical exertion
- Unexplained fatigue
- Itchy and/or sore throat
- Extended bouts with cold
- Sores/lesions in the mouth
- High fever with chills (anything above 102 degrees that last for more than a couple of days)
- Pressure in the chest
How to care for your lungs
Do not start/quit smoking
This is a preventative measure that dramatically reduces the risk of developing a wide range of lung diseases. If you are a smoker, start cutting back today and make it your goal to stop altogether in the near future. If you have yet to start smoking, be sure that you do not pick up and light a cigarette at all.
Maintain clean air at home
To maintain a healthy home, you may want to invest in a good air purifier at home as well as some air purifying plants in order to maintain a healthy supply of breathable oxygen. Steer clear of aerosol based pesticides and other chemicals that can compromise the quality of air in your home. Click here to find out more about different types of pollutions and toxins.
Increase your intake of beta carotene
This nutrient is known as the nutrient for the lungs, beta carotene has been known to effectively keep lung cancer, as well as other respiratory diseases at bay. Fresh organic carrots are the best source of this nutrient so be sure to add it to your daily diet as soon as possible.
Improving lung function and caring for your lungs can be simple as long as you keep a clean and healthy lifestyle. Improving lung function means avoiding vices such as smoking which would certainly help prevent lung ailments, not to mention keep your body at its prime for much longer and to maintain healthy lungs.
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