How Do Our Lungs Function

Breathing starts with the process of inhalation which happens through the mouth and the nose. The act itself is simple, as you take in the air through your mouth or nose and it travels down to your lungs through your windpipe. This windpipe, known as the Trachea, further divides into bronchial tubes, airways that allow the breath to pass down to the lungs.

A majority of the respiratory problems concern airways as they may become narrow, limiting the flow of air passing through them. Bronchial tubes need to be free from any kind of inflammation and swelling in order to allow a smooth inhalation and exhalation process. They also need to be clean of any excess mucus.

Further down, these bronchial tubes or airways pass through the lungs. As they do, they branch out into smaller tubes, called bronchioles. They further end in air sacs that look like small balloons. These air sacs are called alveoli, and each human’s body has over 300 million of them.

A mesh of thin blood vessels, called capillaries, covers the alveoli. This is where the oxygen from the inhaled air gets transfused into the blood. From here, the blood travels to the heart from the lungs. From here on, the blood is pumped by the heart and supplied to the rest of the body. After the blood is used by the cells, they absorb the oxygen from it, and the carbon dioxide in the blood is carried back to the lungs. Through the process of exhalation, this leftover carbon dioxide is removed from the body.

The two crucial points in the entire process are the passage of air through the airways or bronchial tubes and the oxygenation of the blood. Many diseases related to respiration, problems with it, and complexities in the process are caused if there is any kind of malfunction at any one of the two points. For instance, asthma, one of the most common respiratory diseases, is caused by the swelling of the airways which are then filled with mucus as the condition worsens. Similarly, concerning the oxygenation of the blood, problems like sleep apnea, hypoxia, and heart failure may also take rise.

You can keep an eye on these diseases but unfortunately, once they surface, there is no cure for their symptoms through treatment. You can keep the symptoms from getting worse by taking measures, such as following a healthy diet and having a proper workout routine. Oxygen blood saturation levels can be measured using an overnight pulse oximeter. The advantage in this test is that you no longer have to be in a clinical setting to have it checked; it can be easily measured within the comfort of your home by using an overnight pulse oximeter.