Bronchi: tubes that can become obstructed
Bronchi (and bronchioles) make up a system of airways which connects the windpipe to the lungs. Air breathed in through the nose passes through the larynx, then the windpipe before reaching its ultimate destination: the lungs. The lungs’ main function is to ensure gas exchanges between air and blood and to participate in the distribution of oxygen. Different problems, varying in nature and severity, may occur when breathing is compromised.
The mucous membrane lining the inside of bronchi is equipped with microscopic mucus-covered motile cilia. Cilia forms a type of “treadmill” with the purpose of trapping impurities, including dust and foreign particles, and moving them outside of the body. Coughing is a way to remove unwanted substances accumulated in mucus, which is then spit out or swallowed.
In some situations, mucus thickens and obstructs the bronchi. This is called bronchial congestion. It is one of the body’s defence mechanisms, aimed at getting rid of foreign and harmful substances.