Chapter 3: The Lungs

Better Living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
A Patient Guide

November 2008

“When you can’t breathe... nothing else matters”

For further information, contact The Australian Lung Foundation (phone:1800 654 301 or Web site

The State of Queensland and The Australian Lung Foundation have no objection to this material being reproduced.Better Living with COPD ‘Better Living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Patient Guide’ is a funded project of the Statewide COPD Clinical Network. © The State of Queensland (Queensland Health) and The Australian Lung Foundation 2008 The Queensland Government and The Australian Lung Foundation support and encourage the dissemination and exchange of information. but only if they are recognised as the owners and this material remains copyright protects this material.qld. Inquiries to adapt this material should be addressed by email to cpic@health. Queensland Health and The Australian Lung ISBN 978-1-921447-43-3 II . However. COPD National Program. Clinical Practice Improvement Centre. or being made available online or electronically.

• The throat (pharynx). • What the role of the nose and nasal cavity is. The lower respiratory tract consists of: • The windpipe (trachea). • Air sacs (alveoli).Annual Report 2008 chapter 3 The lungs This chapter will help you to understand: • What the respiratory system is. • What the lungs do. What is the respiratory system? The respiratory system includes the upper and lower respiratory tract. • How your lungs protect against irritants or foreign particles. Each lung is divided into segments called lobes. The upper respiratory tract consists of: • The nose and nasal cavity. There are two lungs inside the chest: the left lung and the right lung. • What the structure of the lungs is. What is the structure of the lungs? Both lungs and the heart are located within the chest. Right lung Left lung Throat (pharynx) Nose and nasal cavity Voice (larynx) Heart Windpipe (trachea) Lung Breathing tubes (bronchi and bronchioles)  © The State of Queensland (Queensland Health) and The Australian Lung Foundation 2008 . • Breathing tubes (bronchi and bronchioles). The lungs are soft and protected by the ribcage. • The voice box (larynx).

which is a gas.Better Living with COPD Within the lungs is a trasport system for oxygen and carbon dioxide. Breathing tubes (bronchioles) What do the lungs do? To survive. where it is breathed out. which take air down into each lung. to where it is needed in the body. is absorbed into the bloodstream. through the air sacs (alveoli). Branch of bronchial artery Capillary network around alveoli Branch of pulmonary artery Carbon dioxide (CO²) is a waste product that is produced by the body. which crisscross the walls of the air sacs. As a gas. The breathing tubes continue to divide into smaller and smaller tubes (bronchioles). The windpipe splits into two breathing tubes (bronchi): one to the left lung and one to the right lung. carbon dioxide moves from the bloodstream back into the air sacs and through the airways. Each time you breathe. through the heart. The air sacs are where oxygen. Capillaries crisscrossing the air sacs (alveoli) Lungs Air sacs (alveoli) Air sacs (alveoli)  chapter 3: The lungs . air is drawn via the mouth and nose into the windpipe (trachea). The lungs help take the oxygen from the air. Oxygen is then carried along the bloodstream. The air sacs are surrounded by tiny blood vessels (capillaries). into the body. your body needs oxygen (O²) which you get from the air you breathe.

such as dust and foreign matter from entering the lungs. alcohol and dehydration. and air is drawn into the lungs.  © The State of Queensland (Queensland Health) and The Australian Lung Foundation 2008 . The third protective mechanism for the lungs is the cough. When large amounts of air are needed. They move in a sweeping motion to help move the mucus and unwanted particles up to the mouth where they can be cleared. How do your lungs protect against irritants or foreign particles? Chest expands Sternum Ribs Lungs Diaphragm Diaphragm contracts Breathing in Breathing out Diaphragm relaxes Chest contracts The lungs provide protection against irritants or foreign particles entering the body. What is the role of the nose and nasal cavity? The nose and nasal cavity perform a number of functions. A cough can clear mucus from the lungs. Firstly. the diaphragm relaxes and moves back up. the lungs also have a built-in immune system that acts against germs. the diaphragm contracts and moves down. The nose is the preferred route to deliver oxygen to the body as it is a better filter than the mouth. • Warming and moistening the air that is breathed in. which can interfere with breathing. the nose filters the air when breathing in. mucus lines the airways and traps unwanted particles. The muscles between the ribs relax. The lungs reduce to normal size and air is pushed out of the lungs. including: • Providing us with a sense of smell. The function of the tiny hairs can be affected by smoke. The lungs have several protection mechanisms. mouth breathing may be used. preventing irritants. while also heating and adding moisture (humidity) into the air we breathe. In these situations. Secondly.How do you breathe? The lungs are not a muscle and do not move on their own. Lastly. The diaphragm is the main breathing muscle. When you breathe out. acting like a pump. The nose decreases the amount of irritants delivered to the lung. When you breathe in. a runny nose or blocked sinuses. Mouth breathing is commonly needed when exercising. The muscles between the ribs also contract. The lungs expand. the nose is not the most efficient way of getting air into the lungs. Tiny hairs (cilia) line the air passages. Infection or irritation of the nasal cavities can result in swelling. • Filtering the air that is breathed in of irritants. • Assisting in the production of sound. if an irritant enters the lungs. A cough is the result of irritation to the breathing tubes (bronchi and bronchioles). such as dust and foreign matter.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful