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Breathtaking lung facts

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You probably know that lungs are part of the respiratory or breathing system but here are a few facts about the lungs you might not be aware of:

  • The lungs have a total surface area of about 70-100 square metres; that’s about the same size as a tennis court.
  • Your lungs are like giant sponges. Each lung contains around contains around 300 million tiny airspaces or alveoli.
  • Every cell in your body needs oxygen in order to live. Oxygen passes into the bloodstream through airsacs in the lungs that are about 200 times thinner than an average sheet of paper.
  • Healthy lung tissue is springy and elastic. Under a microscope, the inside of your lungs look like a giant sponge.
  • On average people take about 25,000 breaths every day.
  • Lung function is actually better in the afternoon (around 4pm), and worse in the early hours of the morning (around 4am). Researchers believe that this variation is caused by our internal body clocks.
  • Your brain controls your basic breathing rhythm. It can quickly sense changes in the amount of carbon dioxide in your blood which in turn changes your breathing pattern.The lungs are the only internal organs that are constantly exposed to the external environment.
  • Did you know it is impossible to breathe and swallow simultaneously?
  • The function of the lungs is gas exchange - to extract oxygen from the air and transfer it to the blood stream and to move carbon dioxide in the opposite direction.
  • Most people will take about 15 breaths per minute.
  • Did you know that your right lung is bigger than your left lung? That’s because your heart is on the left side.