Our lungs work for us clay and night, clay after day, month after month, year after year, throughout our lives. About every three or four seconds, they take in air containing the oxygen we need, and breathe out air containing the carbon dioxide and excess water that our bodies must get rid of. Like the heart, the lungs never rest. In a way, muscles and bones are luckier, for they rest when we sit still or lie down.
Everyone has two lungs, a right and a left one, lying inside the chest. The lungs fill with air and expand when we breathe in, and they give out air and contract when we breathe out. It is good to get into the habit of breathing deeply, for then we take in large amounts of the oxygen that is so necessary for all the organs and tissues of the body.
The lungs are very light and their insides are spongy. Millions of tiny air sacs, so small that they can only be seen under a microscope, make up the main structure of lungs. Each one of these air spaces, or sacs, is surrounded by a thin layer of special lung cells and by tissues that are elastic. When we breathe in-we call that inhaling-the elastic tissue relaxes and allows the sacs to fill with air. When we breathe out-we call that exhaling-the elastic tissue around the air sacs contracts and forces the air out.
The thin layer of lung cells has the special ability to take out the oxygen from the air we breathe. This oxygen goes directly into the blood and circulates to every part of the body. These same cells also have the ability of taking the carbon dioxide out of the blood. This is good because carbon dioxide is a main part of the waste that results from the using of the oxygen. The lung cells also allow a certain amount of water to leave our blood stream and we breathe that out, too, when we exhale.
If you want to prove to yourself that our breathe out water, all you have to do is get up close to a window or mirror and take a deep breath. Now, breathe out hard against the window or mirror. How it clouds up? Feel it, and you’ll see it is wet. That’s excess water that our body didn’t want. Even a child gets rid of about two big glassfuls of water every clay, just by breathing out. And a grown-up exhales about four glassfuls each day.
As we all know, air is breathed in through the nose, goes to the back of the throat, and down the windpipe, or trachea, into the bronchial tubes and finally to the lungs. When your nose gets clogged with a cold, you have to
breathe through your mouth.
People are especially careful these days to take good care of their lungs. They have begun to realize that many serious illnesses can result from neglecting the lungs. There are many ways in which we can help to keel) the lungs healthy. Here are a few of them:
1. Always try to avoid breathing polluted air. Such air, if you breathe it year after year, may damage your lungs. If you live in a neighborhood where there is smog, or where factories give off a great deal of smoke, or in places where the traffic is exceptionally heavy, you should try to keep that air out of your house or apartment. Ono way to do it is to have an air conditioner. If you don’t have an air conditioner and the air is particularly bad on a certain day, keep your windows and doors closed.
2. Go to nearby parks or beach or to the country, every chance you get. This tell help to fill your lungs with good, clean air.
3. Try not to get too many colds as this may lead to infection of the bronchial tubes or lungs. While a cold or bronchitis once in a while doesn’t do any serious damage, if you get such infections over and over again, they can cause damage. So take your parents’ advice about catching colds. And read how to avoid colds in the section of these books dealing with sickness.
4. If you have an allergy, such as asthma, don’t neglect to take your medicine and make sure to keep your appointments with your doctor.
5. Make up your mind now, while you are still young, that you are not going to smoke when you grow up. It has been found that smoking, especially cigarette smoking, is terrible for the lungs.
6. As you grow older, join the various clubs that are fighting air pollution. Great work is being done by these organizations to clean up dirty air and to keep clean air clean.
7. Never burn anything out of doors unless a grown-up says it is all right to do so. Did you know that when your parents and grand¬parents were children, people used to burn the leaves that fell from the trees? We don’t do that anymore because it pollutes the air. And we don’t burn garbage as we used to many years ago.