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Body Waste

May 10, 2016 0 Comments

Have you heard the saying “Better out than in”? It’s usually accompanied by an explosive “bottom burp” (an interesting take on flatulence, or as it is commonly known – the fart).

Body Waste in the Nursing HomeWell, it’s true. As a body takes in food and moisture to grow, as well as repair and create energy to perform activity, that ‘intake’ may include other materials that are not used, or are created through the digestive and other bodily processes. If we continued to store and not eliminate then basically we would eventually burst! So… yes, ‘better out than in’ is a good thing.

These eliminations include:

  • excess food matter
  • extra oxygen
  • carbon dioxide
  • water
  • salts
  • waste

Your body has a complex set of glands, organs, and processes that help to eliminate waste materials from your body. Here are the main ones:


Your body is made up of around 60% water. This water needs to be flushed out and replaced continuously. This where your Excretory System kicks in. It helps to keep salts and urea from building up to dangerous levels.

The kidneys perform most of the magic here. During the Body Systems module of the Certificate III in Individual Support you will learn all about the Excretory System and how it helps to remove toxins from the blood.

Drinking lots of water will help this body system stay healthy and work as it should. The kidneys of a healthy adult can process fifteen litres of water a day! So don’t try holding it in… when you gotta go, you should go!

Carbon Dioxide

Your lungs are responsible for taking in the air you need to survive. But air is made of a variety of gases. You need oxygen, but can not use the other gases that exist in our air, such as dust and pollutants. Your nose and throat help to filter out some of these particles so that they never make it to your lungs.

After inhaling oxygen (and the other little nasties) then you also need to exhale to release what cannot be used as well as what we produce… carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a gas found in the atmosphere that is also a waste product of the human body.


Okay, here’s how it is: excrement may not be the most pleasant subject in the world… but it’s a necessary process of the body. And here’s how it works:

  • We take food in
  • Food begins to digest within the mouth (through grinding food with the teeth and allowing saliva to dissolve certain parts of the food)
  • We swallow and this moves the food to the stomach
  • Your body system turns the food into a sort of liquid
  • This liquid passes into the small intestine
  • Special juices are added to digest fats within the liquid and neutralise some of the acids that were created in the stomach
  • In the small intestine, a special hair-like lining known as villi absorb the liquid parts
  • Those liquid parts pass directly into the blood and are taken to all the cells throughout the body (this is sooooooo cool!). This feeds the cells the food they need.
  • Any left over solid parts of the food move into the large intestine
  • These solid parts of the food are the parts you have no use for… so…
  • You go to the toilet and get rid of them 🙂 You ‘poop’ (aka have bowel movement).


The ear canal is susceptible to the world around us – dirt, sweat and grime can get into this passage. So a very clever little gland just inside the ear has developed a way to capture this unwanted material… it’s called earwax (aka cerumen).

Cerumen also keeps the skin of the ear canal moist and prevents infections. Sometimes this earwax leaves the body, removing the unwanted dirt and germs.

This is why it is so important to never stick foreign objects inside ears. Doing so interferes with the work the cerumen is performing. Inserting foreign objects inside the ear canal can force the wax further inside, injuring the eardrum, or scratching the ear canal.

Have faith – leave earwax to do what it was designed to do!

Nasal Discharge

The nose is a path for germs and dust to enter your body. Nasal discharge (snot) is a way for the body to remove any unwanted debris. Sometimes a person sneezes or blows their nose to help the body with this job.


Tears are another way to clean unwanted things from your body. Dirt and other objects can get into the eye, irritating it. The eyes naturally create tears to keep the eyes moist and also to remove other matter that could irritate the eyeball.


The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that regulates your body temperature. When it gets too hot the hypothalamus sends a signal to the sweat glands in the skin to make sweat. The sweat moves to the surface of the skin and as air moves across the skin the sweat evaporates and cools off your body.

Sweat (aka perspiration) is made up from waste in the body – urea, salts, sugars, and ammonia. How efficient is that?!

If a person sweats a lot, they will need to make sure to replace the moisture that evaporates from the skin by drinking lots of water. Especially on a really hot day.


Millions of tiny little bacteria live in the intestine. They are there to help the body break down the food and get the most benefit from that food. But the unfortunate part of these helpful little guys is that they create a sometimes smelly by-product when they work. They are perfect gas makers. This gas (aka flatus) can escape out of the mouth in a burp. Some burps sneak out in a tiny little hiccup. Other times a burp can explode without warning!

When the gas moves its way through the intestine and escapes from the bottom, it is known as flatulence or a fart. Farts are often smelly because they have stayed inside the digestive system, working and building up, for a longer period of time than a burp.


Did you know that many animals vomit on a regular basis? It is a quick way of getting rid of what is unwanted within their stomach. It could be because the creature (including humans) ate something that was spoiled or too spicy, or they just ate too much!

But sometimes it is because you have taken on a virus or germ that is irritating your stomach. Whenever your stomach needs to get rid of what is bothering it, the brain sends a message and then the stomach muscles squeeze together to push out the food. The food comes up past the stomach, out through the oesophagus and into the mouth.

The food is often strange in colour, smells and tastes bad coming back out. Vomit can contain bile from the intestines, stomach acid, and rotten food which is partly digested.

The person may not feel well for several days or they may feel fine as soon as the offending food is gone. After vomiting, the person needs to drink extra water to replace moisture they lost when throwing up… it will also hasten their recovery.


Pus… okay I hear it from the masses “Ewwwwwwwww!”… is actually a sign that the body is in combat mode. Hiya! Pus means the body is fighting against infection, and it is evidence that your body is doing its job.

It could make a really good movie… on a microscopic level… Pus: Good Vs Evil. The body’s white blood cells would be the good guys fighting against the invading bacteria (the bad guys) and the outcome: Pus! Okay… I did say ‘could made a really good movie’ – I didn’t say ‘would’.

Pus contains dead skin cells, dead bacteria, white blood cells, and debris that the body is removing to make way for the healing process.

Taking the Ewwwww! out of Body Waste

Body waste is a daily part of the body’s functions. It prevents illness, cleans the body, and gets rid of excess matter that the body does not use.

It is not an “Ewwwwwww!” matter, it is a necessity – and if you can communicate that to your clients and their families, it can make life a whole lot easier and maybe bring back a bit more dignity to those who are in care and struggling with their body waste practices.

About the Author:

Reg, while being the perfect specimen of the human body, is the man of the hour when it comes to studying ‘Body Systems’. He is committed to improving your understanding of the body’s structure and functions, and is excited to share articles on the subject in his own unique and quirky manner.

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