Exploring Organs: The Lungs

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 are 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.

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About Allan M. Ramirez, M.D.

Allan Ramirez, M.D. is a UofL Health pulmonologist specializing in lung transplant, Cystic Fibrosis, and pulmonology. In addition to lung transplant and cystic fibrosis, his area of interest includes advanced lung disease, COPD, IPF, respiratory medicine and vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA). Dr. Ramirez earned his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School and went on to complete an internship with Evanston Northwestern Health in internal medicine where he also completed his residency. Dr. Ramirez completed his fellowship with the University of Illinois at Chicago in pulmonary disease. At the University of Louisville, he serves as an associate professor of the department of medicine as well as the Medical Director of the lung transplant program. Dr. Ramirez is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

All posts by Allan M. Ramirez, M.D.