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25 Surprising Facts About Your Lungs

Your lungs are one of the most important organs in your body, but how much do you really know about them?

Most people are aware that lungs are used for breathing, but beyond this, there is little general knowledge out there.

Here’s your chance to shine among your friends and throw out a few facts about lungs that not many people know.

  1. Feel like you never stop breathing? That’s because you don’t! The average person breathes on average 13 pints of air per minute.
  2. Human lungs are not symmetrical. If you always pictured two lungs that mirror each other, you were wrong. The right one is slightly larger than the left, and you’re designed like this because of the heart.
  3. The right lung has three lobes, while the left lung only has two. This contributes to the variation in size of both your lungs.
  4. Your lungs are controlled by the brain. Your brain tells your lungs how much to inhale or exhale, which is why you will experience changes in your breathing without intention.
  5. It’s possible to live a healthy life with just one lung. You might notice difficulties when exercising, but as long as you don’t exert yourself too much, there will be little effect.
  6. A very unique fact about lungs compared to other organs is that they can float on water. No other organ in your body has the ability to do this. This is mainly because the lungs always contain a liter of air, even after you’ve exhaled.
  7. Think your lungs are just small organs sitting somewhere inside your chest? The lungs are actually quite huge, and if you spread them out fully, they would cover an entire tennis court.
  8. When you breathe, your body uses just 5% of the oxygen you’ve inhaled. The rest is exhaled and the cycle repeats.
  9. Every hour, we exhale over 17ml of water.
  10. Aside from breathing, your lungs have other uses. Through breathing, you can get rid of around 70% of waste from your lungs – this is great for those who are concerned about breathing and retaining poor quality air.
  11. Your lungs are connected to your spinal cord at the back and your chest bone at the front. They are kept within your rib cage for protection.
  12. While you might feel like your lungs are another elusive organ in your body that you never see, your mouth is directly connected to your lungs. This is through the connection of your wind pipe and esophagus.
  13. When inside the womb, a baby’s lungs are filled with fluid. Once born, it takes around 10 seconds for a baby to take its first breath, and is the result of the change in environment.
  14. Aside from breathing, lungs also play a key part in speech. The larynx, or voice box, is located above the wind pipe, thus pushing the air from the lungs through the voice box and converting it to sound.
  15. The average adult takes 16 breaths every minute. This can vary depending on the type of job you have, the activity you are undertaking and even how much stress you are under.
  16. Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of lung cancer due to the high amounts of tar which are left in the lungs. Around 80% of deaths caused by lung cancer are a result of smoking.
  17. Breathing deeply into your lungs can help to ease pain, relax more and ease stress. Breathing is used to an advantage in activities such as yoga and meditation.
  18. Even if you don’t smoke and exercise regularly to stay healthy, your lungs can still suffer problems if you are affected by heavy pollution where you live or work.
  19. Your lungs have their own defense mechanisms to protect your body against pollution and contamination as much as possible. There are cells in the lungs which produce mucous to act as protection against dust and dirt.
  20. Inhaling is just as important as exhaling. Without breathing back out, your body would retain too much dangerous CO2.
  21. Your lungs contain a large amount of blood, and contrary to the idea of hollow lungs, there are actually very full!
  22. While the blood in your lungs is important, it can also add to the growth of bacteria. The mucous your lungs produce are able to combat this, while also preventing your lungs from drying out.
  23. It can be confusing when people talk about smoke or other vaporized substances going to your brain. This happens as a result of the close connection between your lungs, blood vessels and brain.
  24. Don’t always assume coughing means you have a problem with your lungs. As well as other issues it could be caused by, coughing around 10 times a day is very normal for the average person.
  25. Many lung problems, including asthma, can be cured or helped by engaging in regular exercise. Time to get the running shoes out!

About the Author

Lizzie Robinson
Lizzie Robinson has been a freelance writer since 2011. She studied English Literature at university and enjoys sailing & playing the piano in her free time. Lizzie enjoys writing about current issues & business.
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