Aufbau der Lunge

structure of the lungs

What does that actually look like?

In order to understand brine therapy, we have to take a short excursion into the anatomy of the horse - don't worry, everything that follows remains understandable!

Why does the horse actually need oxygen from the air we breathe? Quite simply, to gain energy from food, for example, you need oxygen. That is why we inhale air through our nose and mouth, while horses only inhale it through their nose (!). Air flows from the nostrils through the pharynx, larynx and trachea into the lungs. The trachea is divided into smaller tubes = the main bronchi. Inside the lungs, the airways continue to branch out into many small bronchi. Similar to a tree. At the very end are the small air sacs (alveoli). They have a diameter of only 0.3 mm and are covered by a network of tiny blood vessels, the capillaries.

IMPORTANT: Breathing – the gas exchange – takes place in the alveoli: when you breathe in, the oxygen is released into the blood and when you breathe out, the carbon dioxide, the “body exhaust gases” so to speak, is exhaled again.

A horse's lungs have the surface area of ​​about 10 tennis courts and are therefore among the largest lungs in the animal kingdom in proportion to body size. Around 90,000 liters of air flow through the respiratory tract at rest every day. At rest, a horse breathes 8-16 times per minute, this can increase to up to 150 times per minute during exertion. With every breath, unwanted particles also enter the respiratory tract, e.g. As pollen, dust, bacteria, mold spores or viruses. In order to "catch" these particles, the lungs have a really great cleaning system: The airways are covered with a mucous membrane, which the air flows past into the deep lung regions. This mucous membrane has a so-called ciliated epithelium on its surface. This consists of very fine hairs that stretch across the mucous membrane like a flexible carpet. So-called goblet cells that produce mucus sit between the hairs. This mucus lays on the cilia and "catches" unwanted particles, such as e.g. B. pollen or bacteria. 

The cilia move in waves and thus transport the substances bound in the mucus to the outside. This mucus is then either swallowed in the pharynx or transported out of the body through coughing or nasal discharge.

Unfortunately, only healthy lungs can provide this protective measure. When a horse falls ill, the mucous membranes become irritated. The inflammation increases the mucus and changes its consistency. In response, more sputum is produced or mucus becomes thick and lodges in the airways, which can cause breathing problems. Spastic reactions are also possible.

An overview

  • The path of the breathing air begins in the nostrils -> pharynx -> larynx -> windpipe (trachea), which divides into smaller tubes at the entrance to the chest = the main bronchi

  • The main bronchi branch out like a tree into ever smaller tubes, the bronchi.

  • Finally, the alveoli are located in the finest branches, the bronchioles. They have a diameter of only 0.3 mm and are covered by a network of tiny blood vessels, the capillaries.

  • IMPORTANT: Breathing – gas exchange – takes place in the pulmonary alveoli: Oxygen penetrates the blood from the respiratory air of the pulmonary alveoli. Conversely, carbon dioxide from the blood in the capillaries passes through the wall of the alveoli into the air space.