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Homeostasis in the Human Body

March 14, 2016 2 Comments

Olive and Susan have been working hard to keep the articles here on the website flowing. I do have an excuse for my seemingly lack of input… I’ve been busy assisting with CPD Courses that feature Body Systems training and have been run off my skeletal feet – so to speak!

So it’s time for good old Reg to pull his finger out and bring you more Body Systems information, and today we’re going to take a look at Homeostasis in the Human Body.

Body Systems and Homeostasis

Homeostasis is when the body systems work in harmony

Homeostasis is the term used to describe a state where your body systems and processes are all working in harmony… harmonostasis (that’s a Reg original and not something you should repeat in front of your colleagues unless you want to totally baffle them!)

Even though each body system has its own job to perform – many jobs are shared or influenced by other body systems. So basically, if one system does not work efficiently, other systems can also be affected. If one system doesn’t do its job, then another system may have to work overtime to try to cater.

To maintain homeostasis the body needs just the right amount of:

  • oxygen
  • nutrients (eg. a nutritional diet)
  • fluid (drink plenty of clean water) and
  • gases

It also needs to maintain correct internal body pressures for cells to work properly. Sleep too is vital to allow your body to regenerate.

What Challenges Homeostasis

Homeostasis can be challenged by illness and disease, and other stressors. Stressors can be internal or external.

An Internal Stressor is usually identifiable through the body’s feedback systems:

Negative Feedback Systems will attempt to correct a disturbance within the body by initiating a biological process. For example, the body will use other means to obtain energy when glucose in the blood is diminished.

Positive Feedback Systems occur when a condition arises that does not occur often, eg. childbirth. The body acts to reinforce that condition, eg. stimulation of milk production for the baby to breastfeed.

Homeostasis requires ongoing maintenance and adjustment and we can assist homeostasis through healthy choices in life. Bear in mind that not all homeostatic stressors are under our direct control, such as external stressors like trauma and disease.

Temperature Control

A vital part of homeostasis is body temperature control. My body temperature is… well… unique. But a normal person’s body temperature sits between 36.4°c to 37.1°c. It’s necessary to maintain this constant temperature because humans are warm-blooded creatures.

When humans are exposed to extreme temperatures for a prolonged period of time, significant risk of death may occur. The human metabolism (the processes of biochemical activity within the body that sustain life), will change dramatically when a person’s temperature is too high or too low.

Humans generate heat from their muscles when they are used, and also from cells as energy is burned. The control centre for temperature regulation (thermoregulation – that’s a fair dinkum word, not a Reg Original! Feel free to use that around your colleagues to impress anytime!) is the role of the hypothalamus in the brain.

The hypothalamus receives messages from your skin, body core and the blood that identifies that you are experiencing altered temperatures. The hypothalamus then sends messages back to the body with instructions of how to attempt to regulate your temperature.

Cool! Cool! Cool! And I’m not talking about temperature ‘cool’ – I’m referring to how super amazing the human body is!

If you are too hot, a message is sent to the skin to sweat more and to the blood vessels to dilate. Did you know that even your lungs may also respond to messages to breathe faster or slower depending on excessive heat or cold conditions!

If you are cold, the hypothalamus will instruct the blood vessels to constrict, heart rate to slow (so you can conserve energy) and your skin to shiver. Goose-bumps are an attempt to provide an extra layer of warmth. Remember that you read above that heat is generated when muscles are used? Well, when you are cold, superficial muscles of your body will shake and shiver in an attempt to generate more heat.

When a person’s body temperature becomes extremely elevated or decreased, this is an extreme lack of homeostasis. Your cells will not be able to function, causing a chain reaction of damage to vital body systems.

You can learn more about body systems and the importance of homeostasis by joining us in a training session through Back to Basics Care. You can even have in-house training at your own facility.

Filed in: Care Studies, Reg Talks

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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