What do lung cells look like


Many people remember hearing about the difference between smoker's lungs and normal healthy lungs at some point in time. These changes occur on a visual level, on a cellular level under the microscope , and even on a molecular level. In addition to these structural changes, there are several functional differences between healthy lungs and smoker's lungs as well, ranging from lung capacity to oxygen exchange. You may even recall the posters depicting the black, ugly-looking lungs of people who smoke.

Does that really happen? What does cigarette smoke really do to the lungs? To really comprehend the effect of tobacco smoke on the lungs we need to take a look at both the anatomy—how the appearance of the lungs changes, and the physiology—how the function of a smoker's lungs differ from those of healthy lungs. What do a smoker's lungs look like beginning with the changes you can see with your naked eye, down to the genetic changes too small to even be seen under a microscope, but often more ominous?

The posters we spoke of earlier didn't lie. Let's start with what you may see if you could look at whole lungs exposed to tobacco. The photo above is honestly what the lungs of a life-long smoker look like on a visual inspection with the naked eye. It's important to state that not all black lungs are related to tobacco smoke. Other irritants that can be inhaled may cause this appearance as well, such as the black lung disease sometimes seen in coal miners.

Yet, it's very easy to tell when looking at a set of lungs whether or not a person smoked during his life. Many people wonder what the black or brown color comes from. When you inhale cigarette smoke, there are thousands of tiny carbon-based particles that are inhaled. As soon as you inhale a puff of cigarette smoke, your body is alerted to the fact that toxic particles have invaded.

Inflammatory cells rush to the scene. Macrophages essentially "eat" the nasty brown-black particles in cigarette smoke in a process called phagocytosis. Since these particles could be damaging even to garbage truck cells, they are walled off in tiny vesicles and stored as toxic waste. And there they sit. As more and more macrophages containing debris build up in the lungs and lymph nodes within the chest, the darker the lungs appear. You may be wondering if the brown and black color ever goes away. After all, macrophages don't live forever. When a macrophage dies, and the vesicles of cigarette waste are released, younger macrophages rush to the scene and ingest the particles.

This process can occur over and over during a person's life. This is not to say that healing doesn't take place when someone quits smoking. It does.

Your Lungs & Respiratory System (for Kids) - KidsHealth

But the discoloration in the lungs may remain indefinitely. Taking a step down in size and looking at the lungs more closely, an increasing number of tobacco-related injuries are found.

Under a microscope, the cells and surrounding tissues become visible as a well-appointed city, but a city ravaged by the toxic cloud of smoke that has descended upon it. Different structures in the respiratory tract are affected in different ways. The job of the cilia is to catch foreign material that finds its way into the airways and propel it up and out of the lungs to the throat in a wave-like manner.

From the throat, this material can then be swallowed and destroyed by stomach acids. This mucus can limit the amount of oxygen-rich air that reaches the smallest airways where gas exchange takes place. Mucus can also provide a nourishing breeding ground for the growth of harmful bacteria.

This decrease in elasticity caused by components of tobacco smoke has important functional repercussions as well discussed later on. These alveoli contain elastin and collagen which allows them to expand with inspiration and deflate with expiration. Altogether, the surface area of your alveoli is around 70 square meters, and if you laid them flat and placed them end to end they would cover a tennis court.

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Are there different kinds of lung cancer?

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Yawning Your appendix Your body's waste disposal system Your bones Your hair - a hairy story Your muscles Your nose Your senses Your terrific tongue Your wonderful hands. Lungs - your lungs lungs; breathe; breath; breathing; oxygen; air; inhale; exhale; Contents What are lungs? What are lungs? You have two lungs, which together form one of the largest organs in your body. You can feel how they work together.

Put one hand on your chest and the other on the upper part of your tummy. Now breathe in deeply. You will feel your chest and your tummy get bigger as the air goes into your lungs. When the diaphragm contracts gets tighter it pushes some of the organs in your tummy down so that there is more space in your chest. What lungs look like Here is a diagram of the lungs.

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Your Lungs & Respiratory System

Each part of your lungs has an important role to play. Breathing in When you inhale, or breathe in, the air goes in through your nose or mouth. Breathing out As each red blood cell empties its load of oxygen, it picks up carbon dioxide say car-bon dye-ox-eyed from the cells and heads back to the lungs. Look after your lungs 1 Don't smoke and keep away from others who smoke. Remind mum she should wear a mask and have windows open if she is using some chemicals, like when she is cleaning the oven or using drain cleaner.

It makes the muscles around your lungs work harder and makes them stronger. Have you noticed how firemen wear special masks when they are fighting fires? The heat from smoke can burn the tiny bronchioles in your lungs and some chemicals that are made when plastics and other materials burn in a house fire can be poisonous. When lungs don't work well Some people have asthma. I had asthma and I had a special thing on my finger. I had to breathe in a mask. My dad was reading to me. The pleurae form a sac called the pleural cavity The space enclosed by the pleura, a thin layer of tissue that covers the lung and lines the inside wall of the chest cavity.

Within the pleural cavity is a small amount of fluid that acts as a lubricant to allow the lungs to move freely in the chest when we breathe. Normally, the cells in our lungs and other parts of our body have a specific growth and death cycle that keeps the number of cells in check. Cancer, of any kind, develops when a set of specific changes, called mutations, develop in a previously normal cell.

Immunology of the Lung

When the set of mutations affects genes in ways that change the natural growth and death cycles of cells, unregulated cell division can result in too many cells. The mutated and abnormally multiplying cells form a mass called a tumor An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should , neoplasm An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should , or lesion An area of abnormal tissue.

In the case of lung cancer, this mass might be detected as a nodule A growth or lump that may be malignant cancer or benign on a chest X-ray A type of high-energy radiation that can go through the body and onto film, making pictures of areas inside the chest, which can be used to diagnose disease or CT scan A procedure that uses a computer linked to an X-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The mass can be benign noncancerous , or it can be malignant cancerous.

When the tumor cells are able to invade normal tissues, the tumor is considered to be malignant. When the malignant cells originally come from the lung, the tumor is considered to be lung cancer.


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The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another is known as metastasis, and the tumors formed by those cancer cells that have spread are called metastases. Lung cancer metastases can spread to lymph nodes around the lungs, and they can also travel through the bloodstream to other organs, such as bones, the adrenal glands, and the brain. Sometimes cancer starts in other parts of the body and spreads to the lung.

What do lung cells look like
What do lung cells look like
What do lung cells look like
What do lung cells look like
What do lung cells look like

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