We would have studied much about the functions of a human body right from our childhood. But do we know how the body temperature is controlled? How the internal body temperature is maintained at a constant level though we travel to hot and cold regions? The single word answer is, “Homeostasis”. Read further to know more.
Homeostasis and its Importance
Homeostasis is the ability to maintain a relatively stable internal state that persists despite changes in the world outside. The term was first defined by Claude Bernard in 1865 that meant maintaining a constant internal environment. A healthy body functions best at an internal temperature of about 37°C (98.6°F). But everyone has their own individual “normal” body temperature, which may be slightly higher or lower. Our bodies also constantly adapt their temperature to environmental conditions. It goes up when we exercise, for instance. And it is lower at night and higher in the afternoon than in the morning.
Our internal body temperature is regulated by a part of our brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus checks our current temperature and compares it with the normal temperature of about 37°C. If our temperature is too low, the hypothalamus makes sure that the body generates and maintains heat. If our current body temperature is too high, heat is given off or sweat is produced to cool the skin. Homeostatic processes also maintain water, oxygen, pH and blood sugar levels.
Why do we Shiver in Cold?
When you feel cold, tiny sensors in your skin send messages to your brain telling you need to warm up. Your brain sends messages to nerves all over your body telling your muscles to tighten and loosen very fast, which is what we call shivering. It does this because when muscles move they generate heat. Hence it is also Homeostasis.
What causes fever?
People get a fever when their brain sets the body temperature higher than normal. This may happen as a reaction to germs such as viruses or bacteria, but it can also happen as a reaction to substances that are made by the body, such as prostaglandins. Our body produces prostaglandins to fight off germs. The regulation of body temperature doesn’t always work perfectly in younger children. That is why they are more likely to react with a fever.