Anyone who is healthy breathes automatically – without thinking about what the lungs do. Some even blame the vital organ for exertions such as smoking. This can lead to mortal danger in diseases of the lungs and respiratory tract.

The human lungs: every day in adults, around 10 000 liters of air flow through.

Without realizing it, adult, healthy people breathe at rest about 12 to 16 times a minute. Each time, about half a liter of air flows through the airways into the lungs and out again.

Construction and location

Physicians refer to all parts of the body, which are traversed by the inhalation and exhalation of air as airways: Through the mouth and nose, the air passes through the throat into the trachea. The trachea lies behind the breastbone and divides in the thorax into a left and a right main bronchus. These lead together with the respective pulmonary vessels to the left or right lung.

The lung (Latin: Pulmo) is in fact paired. Each of the two lungs is supplied with its own blood vessels and, with the respective main bronchus, also has its own air supply, which enters the lungs together with the veins and arteries at the so-called pulmonary hilum. The left lung is slightly smaller than the right and consists of only two instead of three lobes because in its vicinity the heart is located and thus less space available. Each main bronchus divides according to the number of lung lobes in so-called lobe bronchi and then branches out into Segementbronchien and ever smaller bronchi and bronchioli until at the end of the small alveoli, the so-called alveoli.

They are the place where the lung performs its most important function, the gas exchange, giving the lung tissue its spongy appearance.

What are the job of the lungs and respiratory system?

The airways not only carry air into the lungs, but cilia on their walls also purify the air. Foreign matter such as bacteria and dust particles remain hanging in it and are transported along with the lying on the cilia on the pharynx throat direction. He is either swallowed unnoticed or – for example, if the cilia are unable to afford the transport – coughed off.

The most important task of the lung is the gas exchange. Since our body needs a lot of oxygen and has to excrete corresponding amounts of carbon dioxide, a large area is necessary for this. These provide the alveoli. They have very thin walls that almost directly border the blood vessels. This makes it possible for the oxygen from the respiratory air to pass through these walls into the oxygen-poor blood of the pulmonary vessels, while the carbon dioxide passes from the blood into the alveoli.


Pulmonary and respiratory diseases

If the lungs become infected, it can hinder breathing and even have life-threatening consequences. It is not for nothing that lung and bronchial cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and pneumonia are among the ten leading causes of death in Germany. One of the most important risk factors for lung disease is smoking. Because tobacco smoke not only favors the development of malignant diseases such as lung cancer but also damages, among other things, the cilia, which transport phlegm and pathogens outside. This increases the risk of infection. Certain lung diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are very often the result of many years of smoking. If you want to do something good for your lungs, then you should do without cigarettes and similar tobacco products.

Respiratory Diseases As the days get shorter again and autumn and winter bring down cold, wind and rain, our immune system is under heavy strain. Added to this is dry heating air, which irritates and dehydrates our mucous membranes.

In the winter, many people bustle together in warm, closed rooms, buses, and subways, which increases the risk of infection.

So bacteria and viruses are particularly easy to penetrate our body. When many people gather in warm, closed rooms, buses and subways in winter, the risk of infection is also increased: winter time is therefore also the time of acute respiratory infections. The spectrum ranges from a simple cold over the real flu to acute bronchitis or adult pneumonia.

The most harmless form of respiratory infections is a cold. Incidentally, it is sometimes referred to as a flu infection. Compared to the real flu but it runs harmless. Predominantly, a cold is triggered by viruses that affect the upper respiratory tract. Therefore, treatment with bactericidal antibiotics does not help here either. Usually, the disease begins two to four days after infection by droplet infection and usually lasts at most one week.

Typical signs of real influenza, influenza, are sudden high fever, dry cough, muscle and headache, and fatigue. The flu outbreaks that pass through Germany every winter are caused by influenza viruses. A vaccine can protect against infection. However, you should get vaccinated again every year against the flu, because the viruses are very versatile and the vaccine must be adjusted regularly. The Robert Koch Institute recommends vaccinations especially for pregnant women, elderly people and people with chronic illnesses.

If the pathogen penetrates deeper into the respiratory tract, as a result of a cold or flu, the mucous membranes of the bronchi can also become acutely inflamed. One speaks then of acute bronchitis. In more than 90 percent of cases, viruses are the trigger, rarely bacteria. Since acute bronchitis can also become chronic, it is important to treat this condition properly and adequately.


One of the most serious respiratory infections is pneumonia. The most common causes of the disease are bacteria of the species Streptococcus pneumoniae. But other bacteria, viruses or fungi can lead to inflammation of the lung tissue. The treachery of pneumococcal pneumonia is that it can often lead to very severe symptoms without warning. It is also possible to get vaccinated against pneumococci, as in the case of influenza, people from risk groups are recommended to have a vaccine.

In recent years, the number of whooping cough cases increased again. This is mainly due to the fact that the vaccine against this highly infectious disease gradually decreases and adults would have to refresh him. Pertussis, like a whooping cough in technical language, is called, is a bacterial infection. The disease can be very tedious and life-threatening especially for small children. It begins as a harmless cold with a cold and cough, but changes in the course of the typical bouts of attacks of coughing that occur especially at night.

The bacterial infectious disease that still causes most deaths worldwide is tuberculosis. In 2014, about 9.6 million people worldwide fell ill. In Germany, the rate of newly diagnosed tuberculosis infections is comparatively low, but in 2015 the Robert Koch Institute observed an increase to 5,865 cases compared to 4,533 cases in the previous year. Above all, people whose immune system is weakened are at risk. Contagion occurs through close contact with patients, usually by droplet infection via the lungs. In most cases, the body succeeds in successfully controlling the bacteria or isolating them. These inflammatory sites (tubercles), which are enclosed by the immune system, can be visualized on the x-ray and also give their name to the disease. An infection can now be treated well with a combination of antibiotics, however, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis pathogens have been a growing problem in recent years.

Inflammation in the lungs naturally also plays a central role in chronic lung diseases such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Fluid in the lungs is a broad term to describe two possible states that can give characteristic symptoms, such as a bubbling noise in the lungs (rattling) when breathing. Fluid accumulation may be in the lungs (pulmonary edema) or outside the lungs (pleural effusion), in the space between the lungs and the chest wall. The term fluid in the lungs is also used in the lungs to refer to mucus. Mucus or phlegm is really a thick, sticky secretion even though lung water is a thin fluid. Other fluid accumulation can be the result of blood or pus.

The lungs enter the thorax (chest) and lie on either side of the heart. Air travels through the air passages that surround the nose, throat (neck), trachea (trachea) and bronchi. The lung tissue is made up of small air sacs, known as alveoli, which is thin and surrounded by blood capillaries. The structure of the respiratory system allows an exchange of gases, so that essential oxygen is taken into the body and waste products, along with gases, are excreted by the exhaled air. The lung is enclosed in an airtight pleural cavity, with a small pleural space separating the lungs from the chest wall. This cavity is lined by the pleural lining, which also creates a small pleural fluid to reduce the friction between the chest wall and lungs while breathing.

Fluid in the lungs

The most common cause of fluid in the lungs is mucus or mucous produced by the lining of the airways. The airway is lined with a mucous membrane that produces a specialized tissue that produces mucus. This mucus lubricates the lining, which can dry out due to the movement of air and out of the channels as well as stopping dust or microorganisms in the air. However, under certain conditions, the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract can generate excessive amounts of mucus and this can slowly sink down the air ducts until it settles in the lungs. The cough reflex or even spontaneous coughing will usually expel most mucus through the mouth (sputum), but in cases of excessive mucus production, obstructive airway disease or diminished cough, the build-up of mucus will quickly settle in the lungs.

Lung water or water in the lungs usually results from the interstitial fluid or blood plasma and may be an indication of a serious underlying condition, usually cardiovascular disease. This fluid in the lungs is known as pulmonary edema and may be accompanied by shortness of breath or shortness of breath (dyspnoea), a feeling of suffocation, anxiety, and restlessness. Abnormal breathing sounds are also present, especially crackling. Pulmonary edema could be considered a medical emergency and really immediate medical intervention is necessary.

Blood can also fill in the lungs, but this usually happens as a result of severe trauma and the cause is evident, as in a shot or puncture wound. In most trauma cases, where blood can fill the lungs, the lungs collapse and the blood in the lungs collects in the chest cavity (hemothorax). Infections such as tuberculosis (TB) or lung cancer can also lead to blood accumulation in the lungs. Depending on the severity of the trauma, blood in the lungs will cause drowning and requires immediate medical attention. Pus can also occur in the lungs due to a lung abscess and also requires immediate urgent medical attention.

Causes of the fluid inside the lung

  • Bronchitis is the most common cause of mucus in the lungs and is often characterized by persistent cough. This respiratory disease can develop after the common