Lungs Are Located In What Cavity
The lungs are located on either side of the breastbone in the chest cavity, and they’re made up of billions of tiny air sacs called alveoli. They’re also separated by a thin film known as the pulmonary interstitial tissue that contains connective fibers and fibroblasts that produce collagen. These cells help keep the lung’s structure firm so that your lungs can function properly.
Your body needs to exchange gases between the atmosphere and the bloodstream through these gas-filled tubes. And while you may not pay much attention to them, your lungs do an incredible job of filtering out harmful substances like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, chlorine, and ammonia. When there’s too much pollution in the air or when people breathe cigarette smoke, their bodies send more blood to the lungs to get rid of all those toxins. This is because the lungs need to filter out particles as small as 4 nanometers — smaller than one hundredth the diameter of a human hair — before getting into the bloodstream.
In addition to regulating our breathing, the lungs also play a critical role in how we feel. For example, if someone has pneumonia, he’ll often experience shortness of breath, trouble breathing, and fever. A person with emphysema will have chronic shortness of breath and his quality of life will be greatly diminished. Lung cancer patients usually suffer from severe coughing and pain during shortness of breath.
We use about 20 percent of our lungs’ surface area for respiration; however, only 2 percent of this real estate is actually air space. All of the rest of the lung consists of vessels, bronchioles, capillaries, and other tissues. We call this nonbronchiectatic tissue the parenchyma. It’s here where most of the actual work takes place.
Although the lungs are pretty important, the heart is what keeps us alive. But it’s also the lungs’ ability to expand and contract that allows our bodies to stay healthy and strong.
Air enters the lungs via two routes: the trachea and the bronchi. The trachea begins at the larynx, which is just below the voice box in the throat. From there it extends down the neck and into the chest. Air then travels down branching passages called bronchi. Each primary branch splits further into secondary branches. Eventually the bronchi become so narrow that they end in openings called bronchioles. As the bronchi make 90 degree turns, the airways widen again until they reach the alveolar ducts. Here the airways divide once more into fine strands called respiratory fissures, each leading to a separate alveolus. Finally, the last part of the process happens inside the alveoles themselves. Once the oxygenated blood reaches the thin membrane walls surrounding each individual alveole, the oxygen diffuses across these membranes into the air spaces.
All that blood moving around within the lungs creates a lot of heat. Since the blood flow is so hot, special mechanisms must exist to cool it down. One way is to form capillary beds within each alveolus and others throughout the lungs. Another method is to cause fluid movement to occur within the air sacs themselves. Still another is to allow blood to travel back toward the heart.
Now that we know how the lungs work, let’s take a look at some interesting facts about them.
Interesting Facts About the LUNGS
As mentioned earlier, the lungs are responsible for removing carbon dioxide from the blood and adding oxygen to it. This process is called respiration. During normal respiration, we inhale oxygen into the lungs and exhale carbon dioxide out of them. Our lungs do this three times per minute.
Because the lungs are such large organs, it makes sense that they’ve evolved over time into different shapes. People who live at high altitudes have thinner lungs because their atmospheric pressure levels are lower than sea level pressure. However, scientists still aren’t sure why there’s no correlation between low altitude and thinness of the pleural covering. Also, men tend to have larger lungs than women due to differences in size and muscle mass.
The average adult human lung weighs 6 pounds (2.7 kg) and measures 16 inches (0.4 meter) long. If you were to cut off both ends of one lung, it would measure almost 7 feet (2 meters) long! Even though there are many variations within these general measurements, the fact remains that the lungs are the largest organ in our bodies.
If you could remove your entire rib cage and everything attached to it, including the lungs, liver, kidneys, spleen, and diaphragm, you’d weigh less than 100 pounds (45.4 kg)! That’s because the rib cage stabilizes the upper torso and prevents it from flinging backward during movements. Without the ribs, the body would lose its stability and fall forward.
One thing you might notice about your lungs is that they don’t seem very big compared to your arms and legs. This is true, but remember that your lungs are mostly made up of empty space. So even though they’re relatively small, they contain about 10 gallons (38 liters) of air. Now consider that an Olympic swimming pool holds about 50,000 gallons (190,927 liters) of water — that means your lungs hold roughly six times as much air as water.
You probably already knew that the lungs are located in the chest cavity. But did you know that the lungs’ lobular shape was created intentionally? Originally, the lobes weren’t organized into distinct units; instead they were connected by a network of cartilage. Over time, the cartilage began to disintegrate and eventually disappeared, leaving behind a clear framework of connective tissue. This helped give the lungs their distinctive honeycomb appearance.
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