Homeostasis is a simple term which holds a large significance in the functionality of the human body. This essay will discuss and define this term. Explanation as to why homeostasis is important to be maintained and two examples of homeostasis relevant to its control mechanism will be stated in this essay as well.
The word homeostasis was first introduced by Walter B. Cannon, an American physiologist, to describe the body’s ability to maintain relative stability of its internal conditions even though there were constant changes in the surroundings outside. (Marieb & Hoehn, 2007). Thus, homeostasis is utterly defined as “the condition of equilibrium in the body’s internal environment due to the constant interaction of the body’s many regulatory processes”. (Tortora & Derrickson, 2009, p.8). Homeostasis has a dynamic state of balance, in which the body’s internal condition may vary, but only within a narrow range that is compatible with maintaining life. (Marieb & Hoehn, 2007). The important concept here is that the body is continuously monitoring its internal state and takes action to rectify disruptions that threaten its normal functions. (Silverthorn, 2001)
Humans are multicellular organism, which sits right at the top of the hierarchy of structural organization. The cell is the basic living unit of the body and each organ is a collective of many different cells held together by intercellular supporting structures. (Guyton & Hall, 2006). Each type of cells usually differs from one another in order to adapt and serve their functionality; but ironically all cells are comparatively similar in a particular way as they share certain basic characteristics. These similarities of theirs are fundamentally the reason why it is important to maintain homeostasis. An adult human body is 60% fluid. Although most of this fluid, called the intracellular fluid, is inside the cells, one third of it fills the narrow spaces outside the cells. That fluid is identified as the extracellular fluid. (Guyton & Hall, 2006). Extracellular fluid is always in constant motion, travelling throughout the body in the circulating blood. Ions and nutrients that make up the extracellular fluid are needed by cells to sustain cell life. Hence, all cells in essence live in the same environment – the extracellular fluid. In addition, the proper functionality of body cells is also highly dependent on an accurate control of the composition of the extracellular fluid which surrounds them. (Guyton & Hall, 2006; Tortora & Dirrickson, 2009). For these reasons, the extracellular fluid is also known as the body’s internal environment. Extracellular fluid acts as a transition between the intracellular fluid inside cells and the organism’s exterior environment. As tolerances for much change is exceedingly low for cells of multicellular organisms, it therefore depends on the consistency of the extracellular fluid to maintain normal function. Because of extracellular fluid’s significant role, sophisticated physiological processes have been developed to keep its composition relatively stable. (Tortora & Dirrickson, 2009; Silverthorn, 2001). When the extracellular fluid composition has an abnormal range, compensatory mechanisms activate in order to return the fluid to normal state. Homeostasis is of such importance because it is the body’s platform of balance to maintain health and preserve life.
An important aspect of homeostasis is communication within the body. Organ systems do not work solely by themselves; cooperation between them is essential to promote the well being of the body. (Marieb & Hoehn, 2007). The body’s regulating systems that can usually bring the internal environment back into balance is mainly done by the communication between the nervous and the endocrine system. These two regulating systems work either independently or together, using neural electrical impulses or blood- borne hormones respectively, as information carriers, to provide...
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