Lung Disease in Older Adults

The lungs have two primary functions. One is to get oxygen from the air into the body. The other is to remove co2 from the body. Your body requires oxygen to work effectively. Co2 is a gas the body produces when it uses oxygen.

During breathing, air gets in and exits the lungs. When you take in (inhale), air flows through the air passages into the lungs. The air passages are made of elastic tissue. Bands of muscle and other support tissue wrap around each air passage to help keep them open.

Air keeps streaming into the lungs up until it fills small air sacs. Blood flows around these air sacs through small capillary. Oxygen crosses into the bloodstream at the location where the capillary and air sacs satisfy. This is likewise where co2 crosses from the bloodstream into the lungs to be breathed out (breathed out).

Also read: Pain in the Lungs and Back

Aging Changes in Your Body and Their Affects on the Lungs

Modifications to the bones and muscles of the chest and spinal column:

  • Bones become thinner and alter shape. This can change the shape of your ribcage. As an outcome, your ribcage can not expand and contract also during breathing.
  • The muscle that supports your breathing, the diaphragm, becomes weakened. This weak point might avoid you from breathing adequate air in or out.

These changes in your bones and muscles may lower the oxygen level in your body. Also, less co2 might be removed from your body. Symptoms such as tiredness and shortness of breath can result.

Modifications to lung tissue:

  • Muscles and other tissues that are near your air passages might lose their ability to keep the air passages completely open. This causes the air passages to close easily.
  • Aging also causes the air sacs to lose their shape and become baggy.

These changes in lung tissue can permit air to get caught in your lungs. Too little oxygen may enter your capillary and less co2 may be gotten rid of. This makes it difficult to breathe.

Changes to the nervous system:

  • The part of the brain that manages breathing may lose a few of its function. When this happens, your lungs are unable to get enough oxygen. Not enough carbon dioxide might leave the lungs. Breathing might get harder.
  • Nerves in your air passages that trigger coughing ended up being less delicate. Big amounts of particles like smoke or bacteria might collect in the lungs and may be hard to cough up.

Modifications to the immune system:

  • Your immune system can get weaker. This means your body is less able to eliminate lung infections and other illness.
  • Your lungs are also less able to recover after direct exposure to smoke or other harmful particles.

Also read: Pain in Lungs when Breathing

Typical Problems

As an outcome of these modifications, older people are at increased risk for:

  • Lung infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low oxygen level
  • Irregular breathing patterns, resulting in problems such as sleep apnea (episodes of stopped breathing during sleep)


To reduce the results of aging on the lungs:

  • DO NOT smoke. Smoking damages the lungs and accelerate lung aging.
  • Do workout to enhance lung function.
  • Get up and move. Lying in bed or sitting for long periods allows mucus to gather in the lungs. This puts you at risk of lung infections. This is particularly true right after surgery or when you are ill.

Also read: Lung Cancer Symptoms

As you age, you will have other changes, consisting of:

  • In organs, tissues, and cells
  • In the bones, muscles, and joints
  • In the heart and capillary
  • In vital signs

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