Functions of the lungs

The lungs they are anatomical structures, which belong to the respiratory system and are found in the thoracic cage, which consists of a set of bones that contain the ribs, dorsal vertebrae and sternum, consisting of the part between the base of the neck and the diaphragm , and that in addition to containing the lungs contains the heart.

As regards the size of the lungs, it is true that their dimensions vary, since the right lung is larger than the left lung, due above all to the space occupied by the heart. They also have three faces: mediastinal, diaphragmatic and costal.

The main functions of the lungs

We can differentiate two main functions of the lungs: a respiratory function and a non-respiratory function.

Respiratory function of the lungs

They are responsible above all for carrying out the gas exchange with the blood, which is why the alveoli are in close contact with the capillaries. In fact, in the alveoli there is the passage of oxygen from the air to the blood, as well as the passage of carbon dioxide from the blood to the air, produced by the difference of partial pressures of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the blood and the alveoli.

Non-respiratory function of the lungs

  • They act as an external filter, defending themselves from the intense air pollution to which they are exposed.
  • Metabolic actions: elimination of drugs and medications, acid-base balance, lipid metabolism by action of pulmonary surfactant, hormonal participation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.
  • System of prostaglandins, which cause bronchodilation or bronchoconstriction.

Lung Function - A 90 Second Review (January 2021)