Lungs are a pair of organs with air-filled sacs located on either side of your chest. It is an intricate organ that facilitates our inhaling and exhaling of the air, from which we get our life-sustaining gas, oxygen. For an oxygen molecule to reach our blood, it starts its journey in our mouth and goes down our trachea to our bronchial tubes. Then it enters one of the numerous bronchioles, finally finding its way into an air sac where it gets absorbed in the blood. For waste products, they go the reverse way up. But how much do you actually know about lungs?
Our left lung is slightly smaller than our right lung, and it is divided into two lobes. The reason is that we need extra room for our heart in our left chest cavity. Since our heart is such a vital organ that pumps blood for all our organs, it is understandable that our lungs compromise to accommodate its chestmate.
Our lungs can actually float on water, for it contains about 600,000,000 spongy-like structures called alveoli. When they're filled with air, they are like inflated balloons, perfectly able to float on water.
Our lungs are surprisingly big, for if we expand all of our air sacs, we can cover an entire tennis court. This vast surface area aims to increase the rate of oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange between the alveoli and our blood.
Our lungs contain massive mucus that lubricates the air sacs' inner surface. Our lungs will not function well or even dry up without the mucus.
We have an organ called the diaphragm to separate our lungs and heart from our abdominal cavity. Without it, we won't be able to carry out the mechanical breathing process, during which our lungs contract and expand. Worse, our stomach may even pierce into our lungs, causing malfunction and injuries.
An adult breathes in about 11,000 liters of air every day. Considering the amount of air we need every day, it is such a hardworking organ that is worth being cared for, which also leads to the following fun fact about the well-being of the lungs.
Smokers are 12-13 times more likely to die from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a preventable and treatable disease characterized by airflow limitation) than non-smokers. This is because harmful ingredients in smoke can easily damage our airways and alveoli, thus causing lung cancer.
Lung cancer can be developed even without smoking. Other factors like radiation, air pollution, and genetic disposition are likely factors of lung cancer. Whereas anyway, early screening is always a vital step in cancer treatment.
When the COVID virus invades our lungs, our immune system reacts by causing inflammation, leading to the scaring of air sacs. Usually, these sacs end up filled with fluid, marking permanent lung damage. This is why COVID patients may need a ventilator to relieve the shortness of breath due to ineffective air exchange in air sacs.
Regarding all the fun facts above about lungs, we can see that our lungs are indeed amazing organs. Therefore, eat well and live healthy to protect it from diseases---that’s all you can do for this diligent organ working day and night without a rest!
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