You’re pretty amazing. Not just “you” in general, but the single structure that holds all of your organs, muscles and bones together: the body. As you’re reading this, you’re breathing without you having to tell your body to do so. If you didn’t already know, we can’t live without air. That makes it all more important to maintain healthy lungs.

Your lungs, a very vital organ, are located in your chest inside your rib cage. Your lungs are a pair that are not identical in shape or size. The left lung is usually smaller than the right.

Our lungs expand with each breath as air enters our body, whether by mouth or nose. The oxygen left in your body is then circulated into your bloodstream as you inhale and release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere as you exhale.

Sitting below your lungs is your diaphragm. This muscle assists the lungs to breathe correctly. After air enters the body, it is then moved down the windpipe (trachea) and continues down to the alveoli where gas exchange occurs at the final stop of the air’s pathway. The alveoli are tiny sacs. About 700 million are in your body.

Varying lung complications can occur with even more potential causes. Some respiratory diseases include, but are not limited to:

Common symptoms of lung complications include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, wheezing and chest inflammation.

Have you noticed that it takes more effort to breathe than it should? Be sure to speak with your primary care provider about the symptoms you are experiencing. Share any irritants you may have encountered such as tobacco smoke, mold and other triggers you may have such as dust mites. Once evaluated by your primary care provider, you may be referred to a pulmonologist. Pulmonologists are specially trained physicians who focus on lung and respiratory diseases and disorders.

Need a primary care provider? Use our provider finder to find just what you need with one of our 700+ providers and more than 12,000 health care professionals. From family medicine to specialty care, UofL Health is here for you. Learn more from the Exploring Organs series. 

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UofL Health is a fully integrated regional academic health system with seven hospitals, four medical centers, nearly 200 physician practice locations and more than 1,000 providers in Louisville and the surrounding counties, including southern Indiana, with additional access to UofL Health through a partnership with Carroll County Memorial Hospital. With more than 12,000 team members – physicians, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists and other highly skilled health care professionals, UofL Health is focused on one mission—one purpose—delivering patient-centered care to each and every patient—each and every day.

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