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The lungs are part of the respiratory system, made up of organs and tissues that work together to help you breathe, says the American Lung Association. They move fresh air and oxygen into the body while removing waste gases.
To survive, every cell in the body needs oxygen. The air around us contains oxygen and other gases. As we breathe, we take in air. Oxygen is moved to the bloodstream and transported throughout the body. Blood carries oxygen so it touches each cell of the body. As it interacts with cells, oxygen is exchanged for waste (carbon dioxide gas). The blood then carries the carbon dioxide waste back to the lungs where it’s removed from the blood stream and exhaled.
This gas exchange happens automatically and is a vital process for the body.
But that’s not all. The respiratory system has other roles important to breathing:
There are many parts to the respiratory system. The American Lung Association lists them as follows.
There are also a variety of blood vessels that help the lungs function correctly.
As you age, the lungs lose capacity. So, it’s important to prioritize lung health and not take it for granted. How you can keep your lungs healthy:
Practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day. It can prevent germs in the mouth from developing into infections.
Originally published 8/3/2018; Revised 2022
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