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Lung hyperinflation impairs the lungs' ability to empty. It occurs as a complication of breathing disorders that cause physical and functional changes to the airway, resulting in inadequate exhalation. People with hyperinflated lungs experience both physical and psychological symptoms; the effects may be chronic or transient. Hyperinflated lungs may lead to more critical complications, though the condition is treatable. Treatment aims to improve breathing and relieve uncomfortable symptoms.

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1. Normal Lung Function

Lungs function to bring fresh air in and remove waste gases from the body. Inhaled oxygen travels through the mouth or nose, down the windpipe, through the bronchial tubes, and into the lungs. From there, oxygen is transferred to the bloodstream, where it is carried throughout the body, supporting vital functions in the organs. The bloodstream is also responsible for carrying carbon dioxide (CO2) back to the lungs. CO2 is a waste product of oxygen use in the body. Incoming oxygen and outgoing CO2 are exchanged in the alveoli, tiny air sacs in the lungs. CO2 is expelled through exhalation. In healthy lung function, this exchange is kept in careful balance, allowing for comfortable and efficient breathing.

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