Lung Anatomy - Wsh.nhs.uk

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Lung anatomyBreathingBreathing is an automatic and usually subconscious process which is controlled bythe brain. The brain will determine how much oxygen we require and how fast weneed to breathe in order to supply our vital organs (brain, heart, kidneys, liver,stomach and bowel), as well as our muscles and joints, with enough oxygen to carryout our normal daily activities.In order for breathing to be effective we need to use our lungs, breathing musclesand blood system efficiently.This leaflet should help you to better understand the process of breathing and howwe get the much needed oxygen into our bodies.The lungsYou have two lungs, one in the right side and one in the left side of your chest. Theright lung is bigger than the left due to the position of the heart (which is positionedin the left side of the chest).Source: Pulmonary RehabilitationReference No: 66354-1Issue date: 13/2/20Review date: 13/2/23Page 1 of 5

Both lungs are covered by 2 thin layers of tissue called the pleura. The pleura stopthe surface of the lungs rubbing together as we breathe in and out. The lungs areprotected by the ribcage.The airwaysWithin the lungs there is a vast network of airways (tubes) which help to transportthe oxygen into the lungs and the carbon dioxide out.These tubes branch into smaller and smaller tubes the further they go into the lungs.Page 2 of 5

Trachea (windpipe): This tube connects your nose and mouth to your lungs. Thetrachea is supported by rings of cartilage which help to keep the airway open. At thebase of the trachea the airway divides into two bronchi.Bronchi: There are two bronchi (right and left), each one supplying its respectivelung. These airways are also supported by rings of cartilage.Bronchioles: These airways connect the bronchi to the alveoli. They are the firstairways not to be supported by cartilage and this can put them at greater risk ofcollapse.Alveoli: These are the tiny air sacs found at the end of the bronchioles (oftendescribed as looking like bunches of grapes!). It is here that the oxygen and carbondioxide move between the lungs and the blood system.The ciliaWithin the larger airways are hair-like projections called cilia. These produce asticky mucous which helps to trap dust and other particles. This mechanism helps toprevent unwanted dirt from entering the lungs and irritating them. The cilia move ina wave-like motion to help move the mucous and the dirt particles out of the lungs.These cilia can be damaged and become ineffective in a person who smokes, or ifsomeone is exposed to very dusty environments. This then allows the particles ofsmoke and dust to enter the lungs and cause permanent damage. This in turn willnegatively affect the breathing process.Muscles used for breathingThere are three main groups of muscles used to help make the process of breathingefficient and effective:Page 3 of 5

Intercostal muscles: These muscles can be found attached to, and between, theribs. They help the ribcage to expand and shrink as we breathe so that the lungscan expand and deflate.Accessory muscles: These muscles also help with breathing and include themuscles in the neck, back and tummy area.The diaphragm: This is the thin, dome-shaped muscle found underneath the ribs. Itseparates the chest cavity from the tummy cavity. It helps with about 85% of thework of breathing and so is a very important muscle.In ‘normal’ breathing you can see that the diaphragm is working when your tummyrises and falls with each breath.It is important that the diaphragm is kept strong so that the breathing process can beefficient and allow the air to get down into the bottom of the lungs to keep themclear.In people with lung conditions the diaphragm often becomes weak and ineffective.This is because short, shallow, quick breaths lead to overuse of the muscles in theupper part of the chest and so the diaphragm almost becomes redundant.How does oxygen get into your blood?This occurs through a process called ‘gas exchange’ and takes place in the alveoli.Page 4 of 5

Air we breathe in enters the network of tubes leading from our mouth / nose. It travels down through these tubes to the alveoli. The oxygen dissolves in the mucous that lines the alveoli. It then passes through the very thin membrane of the alveoli and is picked up bythe red blood cells (in the vast network of capillaries which surround the alveoli)and is carried to where it is needed in the body.Damage to the alveoli which can occur in long-term lung conditions can make thisprocess less effective and it is often more difficult for the oxygen to enter and carbondioxide to leave the lungs.Useful ContactsPhysiotherapy DepartmentWest Suffolk NHS Foundation TrustHardwick Lane, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 2QZTel: 01284 713300Suffolk Community Healthcare Care Co-ordination Centre (CCC)Tel: 0300 123 2425West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is actively involved in clinical research. Yourdoctor, clinical team or the research and development department may contact youregarding specific clinical research studies that you might be interested inparticipating in. If you do not wish to be contacted for these purposes, please emailinfo.gov@wsh.nsh.uk. This will in no way affect the care or treatment you receive.If you would like any information regarding access to the West Suffolk Hospital andits facilities please visit the website for AccessAble (the new name for ons/west-suffolk-nhs-foundation-trust West Suffolk NHS Foundation TrustPage 5 of 5

Lung anatomy Breathing Breathing is an automatic and usually subconscious process which is controlled by the brain. The brain will determine how much oxygen we require and how fast we need to breathe in order to supply our vital organs (brain, heart, kidneys, liver, stomach and bowel), as well as our muscles and joints, with enough oxygen to carry out our normal daily activities. In order for .

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