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What Is the Bronchial Tree?

The trachea and bronchi allow air to enter the lungs for breathing.
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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 05 August 2014
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The bronchial tree is an essential part of the respiratory system. It consists of several interacting structures, such as the bronchi, bronchioles, and alveoli. These structures work together to provide a network system between the lungs and the trachea. Without this system, a person could not breathe properly.

Humans inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. The trachea plays a vital part in transporting these gases. If a person looks at a diagram of the bronchial tree, she is likely to see at least some portion of the trachea. The long tube-like structure is not technically part of the bronchial tree. It is, however, a structure that connects with and is essential to the proper functioning of the network.

The trachea descends from the throat down to an area known as the thoracic cavity. It is commonly called the windpipe because of its role in transporting gases destined for or expelled through the bronchial tree. When a person inhales, the oxygen travels down the trachea into two hollow branches known as the bronchial tubes, or the primary bronchi.

The bronchial tubes are the largest parts of this structure. There is one bronchial tube connected to each lung. The connection occurs in an upper portion of the lung known as the helium.

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Although the right and left bronchial tubes perform the same tasks, they are not identical. The right bronchial tube, for example, is shorter than the left. It is also wider than its counterpart.

The primary bronchi also branch off, forming two smaller bronchial tubes known as the lobar bronchi, or secondary bronchi. There are three lobar bronchi on the right side and two on the left. The bronchiole tree’s parts continue reducing in size as these secondary bronchi become smaller tubes known as the bronchioles.

As roots branch out in the ground, the bronchioles branch out and cover the surface of the lungs. These muscular structures expand and contract, controlling the exchange of gases with the alveoli. The alveoli are tiny structures composed of ducts and air sacs. They allow the exchange of the gases in the blood. Due to these tiny structures, carbon dioxide can be transported out and oxygen can be processed in.

The bronchial tree provides a system for the trachea to service the lungs. It is important to note, however, that like the trachea, it does not include the lungs. The bronchial tree begins with the primary bronchi and ends with the alveoli.

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Discuss this Article

SZapper
Post 2

@starrynight - Welcome to the asthma sufferers club! Trust me, you aren't alone. I have asthma and I've also read that the asthma rate in the United States has increased in the last few years.

I've had asthma since I was little so I have a few tips for you. First of all, carry your rescue inhaler with you everywhere. Even if you haven't had an asthma attack in a few months, trust me you still need it. Bronchial symptoms can come on quickly and you don't want to be caught without your medicine.

Secondly, be sure to monitor your symptoms. If you're having attacks that aren't being fully treated by your rescue in inhaler it's time to go see a doctor. Don't put it off. Also having asthma attacks more often than normal is another good reason to see the doctor. Your doctor may want to prescribe you other medications to use daily to control your asthma to complement your rescue inhaler.

Asthma is a serious condition but as long as you stay on top of thing it should affect your life too much.

starrynight
Post 1

I was diagnosed with asthma yesterday so I've been trying to do a little bit of research about it. My doctor told me that asthma basically makes your bronchial tubes constrict, thus making is hard to breathe and causing wheezing.

I know next to nothing about the lungs or the bronchus so I wanted to get a better understanding of it. I didn't know the bronchial tree was so complex!

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