We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Anatomy of the Lungs?

By Debra Durkee
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The human body contains two lungs, and the anatomy of the lungs is such that they are mirror opposites of each other, with a few minor differences. Both lungs are delicate, sponge-like organs that sit in the chest cavity and are protected by the ribcage. Below the lungs sits the diaphragm; the lungs are connected to the mouth and nose by the trachea, also known as the windpipe.

The trachea supplies the lungs with air from the outside, which is carried into the lungs by branches called bronchi. These large bronchi then branch out into smaller tubes called the bronchioles, which in turn connect to each one of the millions of air sacs that make up most of the anatomy of the lungs. When the bronchi become obstructed by mucus, it is difficult for the air to get to the lungs, which can result in a wheezing cough, also known as bronchitis.

Each one of the bronchioles ends in an air sac. These air sacs are also known as the alveoli, and there are millions of these structures in each lung. Here, oxygen is transferred to the bloodstream, where it is then transported throughout the entire body. Each of the alveoli also plays a role in the reverse process; when the blood returns to the lungs from the body with carbon dioxide, the alveoli remove this product to be exhaled from the lungs. The blood comes in contact with the alveoli when it passes through a thin layer in between each of the millions of alveoli called the interstitium.

Each breath draws a number of contaminants into the body along with life-sustaining oxygen. The anatomy of the lungs includes cells designed to seek and destroy any foreign particles that make it past the protective mucous layer that lines the respiratory system. The surface of each alveolus contains cells called phagocytes, which act in a way similar to white blood cells to isolate and destroy any potentially harmful particles found.

The lungs can expand and contract with every breath. Covering the lungs as well as the inside of the chest cavity is a thin, slippery coating called the pleura. This allows the lungs to move within the chest cavity and slide easily against the other organs they are pressed against. While the organs mirror each other in the way that the anatomy of the lungs is constructed, the right lung is slightly larger than the left and contains three major lobes, while the left contains only two.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.