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kids health ( your lungs )

dimanche 5 octobre 2014 | 14:04

What's something that you do all day, every day, no matter where you are or who you're with?

(a) think about what's for lunch tomorrow
(b) put your finger in your nose
(c) hum your favorite song
(d) breathe
It's possible that some kids could say (a) or (c) or that others might even say — yikes! — (b). But every single person in the world has to say (d). Breathing air is necessary for keeping humans (and many animals) alive. And the two parts that are large and in charge when it comes to breathing? If you guessed your lungs, you're right!
Your lungs make up one of the largest organs in your body, and they work with your respiratory system to allow you to take in fresh air, get rid of stale air, and even talk. Let's take a tour of the lungs!

Locate Those Lungs

Your lungs are in your chest, and they are so large that they take up most of the space in there. You have two lungs, but they aren't the same size the way your eyes or nostrils are. Instead, the lung on the left side of your body is a bit smaller than the lung on the right. This extra space on the left leaves room for your heart.
Your lungs are protected by your rib cage, which is made up of 12 sets of ribs. These ribs are connected to your spine in your back and go around your lungs to keep them safe. Beneath the lungs is the diaphragm(say: DY-uh-fram), a dome-shaped muscle that works with your lungs to allow you to inhale (breathe in) and exhale (breathe out) air.
You can't see your lungs, but it's easy to feel them in action: Put your hands on your chest and breathe in very deeply. You will feel your chest getting slightly bigger. Now breathe out the air, and feel your chest return to its regular size. You've just felt the power of your lungs!

A Look Inside the Lungs

lungs diagram
From the outside, lungs are pink and a bit squishy, like a sponge. But the inside contains the real lowdown on the lungs! At the bottom of the trachea (say: TRAY-kee-uh), or windpipe, there are two large tubes. These tubes are called the main stem bronchi (say: BRONG-kye), and one heads left into the left lung, while the other heads right into the right lung.
Each main stem bronchus (say: BRONG-kuss) — the name for just one of the bronchi — then branches off into tubes, or bronchi, that get smaller and even smaller still, like branches on a big tree. The tiniest tubes are called bronchioles (say: BRONG-kee-oles), and there are about 30,000 of them in each lung. Each bronchiole is about the same thickness as a hair.
At the end of each bronchiole is a special area that leads into clumps of teeny tiny air sacs called alveoli(say: al-VEE-oh-lie). There are about 600 million alveoli in your lungs and if you stretched them out, they would cover an entire tennis court. Now that's a load of alveoli! Each alveolus (say: al-VEE-oh-luss) — what we call just one of the alveoli — has a mesh-like covering of very small blood vessels called capillaries (say: CAP-ill-er-ees). These capillaries are so tiny that the cells in your blood need to line up single file just to march through them.
lungs animation

All About Inhaling

When you're walking your dog, cleaning your room, or spiking a volleyball, you probably don't think about inhaling (breathing in) — you've got other things on your mind! But every time you inhale air, dozens of body parts work together to help get that air in there without you ever thinking about it.
As you breathe in, your diaphragm contracts and flattens out. This allows it to move down, so your lungs have more room to grow larger as they fill up with air. "Move over, diaphragm, I'm filling up!" is what your lungs would say. And the diaphragm isn't the only part that gives your lungs the room they need. Your rib muscles also lift the ribs up and outward to give the lungs more space.
At the same time, you inhale air through your mouth and nose, and the air heads down your trachea, or windpipe. On the way down the windpipe, tiny hairs called cilia (say: SILL-ee-uh) move gently to keep mucus and dirt out of the lungs. The air then goes through the series of branches in your lungs, through the bronchi and the bronchioles.

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