Air is one of life’s most precious resources. The process of breathing, referred to as respiration is critical to sustaining life. Lungs play a central role in the respiration process. The first part of respiration occurs when we inhale oxygen from the air through the mouth or nose and into the throat, also known as the pharynx. From the pharynx, oxygen passes into the wind pipe, also known as the trachea. The trachea splits into the left and right bronchi, which are the main air passages within the left and right lungs.
The bronchi then further divide into smaller and smaller tubes or branches called bronchioles. At the very end of the bronchioles are air sacs referred to as alveoli. Alveoli play a very unique role in the body, as they allow inhaled oxygen to be passed into the bloodstream via contacting blood vessels called capillaries.
At the same time, the alveoli extract carbon dioxide from the bloodstream, which is then pushed out through the lungs and out of the body. This second part of respiration occurs when we exhale the carbon dioxide through either the mouth or nose.
Lungs are amazingly reliable organs, never taking a break from the beginning of life to the ending of life. On average we breathe about 12 times a minute while at rest. If every breath represented one step, in a lifetime, our lungs would climb the equivalent of Mount Everest 10,000 times!