Alveoli are part of lung parenchyma and can be termed as an anatomical structure that acts like an ending to one’s respiratory tree. Alveoli are basically air sacs that act as the point of formation and termination of a person’s respiratory tract. Around 700 million alveoli are present in a pair of lungs. Wrapped in capillaries, these alveoli have a surface area of around 70 square meters. While each alveolus is about 200 micrometers in diameter, its size can increase when a person inhales.
These alveoli usually contain elastic fibers, along with collagen. There is a purpose of alveoli containing these elastic fibers. When alveoli need to be stretched, it is these elastic fibers that support stretching. When a person inhales, elastic fibers are filled with air. On the other hand, exhaling causes these fibers to spring back. At the time of exhaling, elastic fibers push out carbon dioxide. Thus, elastic fibers play a very important role in supporting the function of alveoli in human lungs and the complete respiratory process.
Alveoli will not be able to do their task properly if not supported by elastic fibers. Additionally, human beings can suffer from different kinds of respiratory diseases if elastic fibers do not function properly. Uncontrolled breathing can lead to such diseases. Alveoli will take a very long time to exhale carbon dioxide, which in turn can cause harm in the body. People can also suffer from a disease called emphysema if alveoli lose their elasticity. In this disease, the process of exhalation starts taking a prolonged time and the volume of gas exchanged on each breath comes down.
Obstructions in gas exchange can also cause inflammation in lungs. The severity of this problem may further lead to the acute respiratory distress syndrome. Thus, it is critical for alveoli to contain elastic fibers that have an important role to pay in the human respiratory system.
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