The 7 parts of the lung: functions and characteristics

Throughout the day, we breathe about 21,000 times, circulating through our lungs about 8,000 gallons per day.

They are constantly working and, in fact, they cannot stop, because the rest of the organs in the body depend on their functioning. Not only because they oxygenate the blood, but also because the action of the lungs eliminates carbon dioxide, a residue that is toxic to the cells.

Then we will see the most important parts of the lung, Not without first highlighting its functions.

    Parts of the lung and their functions

    The lungs are very important organs for the body, because it is thanks to them that gas exchange can take place. First, they breathe in, allow the passage of oxygen present in the external environment and reach the blood then, by exhalation, they pass the carbon dioxide from the blood to the outside, being expelled.

    The path that air follows usually begins in the nose, although it can also be introduced through the mouth. The air then passes through the pharynx, then into the larynx and then into the trachea, from where it will descend to the fork and enter each of the two lungs that the human body has.

    Inside the cells metabolic reactions are performed that require energy, which is extracted by breaking down oxygen molecules. In turn, these oxygen molecules bind to carbon molecules, producing carbon dioxide, which is a toxic residue for the cell. This is why breathing is doubly important, because it allows these metabolic reactions to occur and prevents them from getting drunk.

    But just as they are the route to get the oxygen needed for the body to function, so too are the entry of many pathogens. That is why the airways are covered with a special mucous membrane, able to trap particles from the outside, Such as dust and germs, which, if not properly retained, would seriously harm the health of the individual in general and the lungs in particular.

    Main parts of the lung

    The lungs are two organs that look like two pink balloons, of which they occupy a large part of the rib cage, along with the heart. In fact, it is because of the location of the heart that the lungs are not perfectly symmetrical to each other. The left lung is slightly smaller because, at least in most people, the heart organ is positioned on the left side of the rib cage.

    But despite this slight deformation, completely natural and asymptomatic, the two lungs, if they are healthy, they play their role satisfactorily: to be the center of the respiratory system. For this reason, they have special internal structures, which work together to allow the exchange of gases.

    1. The trachea

    The trachea is the respiratory system that begins in the larynx, descending vertically to the fourth thoracic vertebra, more or less at the level of the heart.

    In itself, it is not part of the lungs, but it is fundamental in the respiratory system, Since it is the duct that forks to allow air to enter both respiratory organs and, in turn, giving rise to the right and left main bronchi.

      2. The lobes

      The lungs are divided into well-defined sections, called lobes. These lobes are folds in the membrane that covers the lungs, called the pleura.

      These lobes perform a fundamental function, because they are the ones that allow good breathing. It is thanks to them that the lungs can expand when inhaling air.

      But, as we said before, due to the heart, the lungs are not symmetrical, which also affects the number of lobes. While the larger right lung is divided into three lobes, upper, middle and lower, the left, smaller, has only two, the lower and the upper.

      3. The bronchi

      The bronchi are extensions of the trachea, which enter the lungs and cause air to reach other structures in the lungs. As the tracheobronchial duct descends, it branches out even more, forming small branches called bronchioles.

      4. The bronchioles

      The bronchioles are getting narrower and narrower, so to speak allow the exchange of gases that will occur at their ends, Being this the end of the road.

      Even small bronchioles are of great importance, which is why there are around 300,000 in each lung. It is from these structures that the air can reach the following structure: the pulmonary alveoli.

      5. The alveoli

      The alveoli are at the end of the bronchioles, and they are made up of small air sacs where gas exchange takes place. The wall of these structures is formed by capillaries that are linked to the blood vessels, that is, it is the place where contact with the blood is established.

      So, it is in the alveoli that the actual respiration takes placeWhile the rest of the structures of the respiratory system are responsible for getting the air to reach this point.

      Gas exchange begins when the alveoli enrich the blood with oxygen, which passes into the bloodstream by simple diffusion through the capillary walls.

      With oxygen in the blood, red blood cells reach the alveolar capillaries loaded with carbon dioxide, which was generated as metabolic waste after oxygen was used inside the cells.

      In order for red blood cells to bind to the newly arrived oxygen, they must release the carbon dioxide they are carrying., Which will be collected by the alveoli and then eliminated outside by expiration.

      The exchange of gases takes place without interruption, and it is thanks to the alveoli that the oxygen that we introduce from the outside reaches all the cells of the body, which can perform their metabolic functions.

      Outraged, it is also thanks to these structures that carbon dioxide can be released, Before it intoxicates the cells.

        6. He called her

        As we mentioned earlier, the pleura is the structure that covers the lungs, protecting its interior and having only two openings, Through which enter the two main bronchi.

        The pleura is made up of connective tissue, which consists of a cell membrane whose function is to support the internal parts of the lung. This membrane is also covered with a special mucous membrane that lubricates the lungs.

        Through the pleura, the lungs have structural support, while allowing them to expand and contract, avoid rubbing with the rib cage and absorb the impact in case of any blow. This keeps the bronchi, bronchioles, and alveoli intact.

        7. The diaphragm

        Although not part of the lungs, the diaphragm is a very important structure for the proper functioning of the respiratory system. It is a muscle located under the lungs and has a shape similar to that of an arch.

        The function of this arch is to contract when inhaled, thus preventing the lungs from having obstacles to increase its volume. In turn, the diaphragm relaxes during exhalation.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Tomashefski, JF, Farver, CF (2009) “Anatomy and Histology of the Lung”. Pulmonary pathology of Dail and Hammar.
        • Less, N., Soni, N. (2014) “Respiratory Physiology”. Critical care clinical medicine.
        • Wahlstedt, R. (2019) “Lung Anatomy”. University of Liberty.
        • Latarjet, M, Ruiz-Liard, A and Pró, E .. (2007). Human anatomy. Spain. Panamericana.
        • Willmore, JH and Costill, DL (2007). Physiology of effort and sport. Texas, United States, Paidotribo.
        • Gutiérrez, C. (2004). Physiology and hygiene. Mexico. Limousine

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