The Body Systems – Term Paper

The Body Systems


The human body undergoes a myriad of biological processes most of which are in sync. Each body organ is responsible for a particular function, and their contribution to the overall well-being of the individual cannot be underestimated. Each body system is so important that any cause of failure in any one of them may result in an overall collapse of the whole body functioning. In the case of homeostasis, the body relies on the skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, nervous, and respiratory systems; to mention but a few, to uphold steady conditions which assure a persons survival. Homeostasis, therefore, is a physiological process (since it uses physiological mechanisms) through which the bodys internal environment is kept in somewhat stable conditions (Chiras 3). These stable conditions are maintained regardless of any external or internal bodily changes. Examples of homeostasis processes include gas exchange regulation and pH maintenance. In some cases, individuals are solely responsible for the types of diseases that they suffer. In the event of lifestyle illnesses, persons suffering from obesity may attribute their condition to high cholesterol intake and lack of exercise. In other instances, individuals are forced to bear the brunt of genetic disorders which they have no control over. A discussion on two body systems: that is the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and the manner of their coordination towards achieving homeostasis is important. Additionally, this paper will consider the effects of a disorder in one of these systems and the ultimate effects that this defect will have on its counterpart. It is also important to consider factors such as genetic diseases that affect these systems together with the consequences of deadly cancer.

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The Respiratory System and Homeostasis

Oxygen is brought into the human body through the respiratory system. The respiratory system comprises the lungs, trachea, bronchi, pharynx, nose, and larynx each of which plays a significant role in the respiratory process. The respiration process is categorized as internal and external respiration. Internal respiration takes place when the cells in the body are bathed in a fluid medium hence the facilitation the oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange. For external respiration, gaseous exchange takes place between the external environment and the body through the respiratory system. All in all, the respiration process takes place so that blood pH is regulated and the body temperature controlled. A constant blood pH and a working gas exchange process maintain homeostasis (Chiras 16). One takes in air through the nose. The nostrils allow air to enter the nasal cavity through to the pharynx and then the windpipe which directs this air to the bronchi, bronchioles, and the alveoli and finally into the pulmonary capillaries. During exhalation, air moves out of the lungs through the same components of the respiratory system but in a reverse manner.

The pulmonary capillaries are blood vessels which aid the transportation of oxygen into the bloodstream. At the same time, the carbon (IV) oxide that was initially in the blood stream is released from the pulmonary capillaries into the alveoli, out to the bronchioles, bronchi, windpipe, and eventually out through the nose. Diffusion enables gaseous exchange in the pulmonary capillaries. According to Homma, Hiroshi and Yoshinosuke, this exchange ensures that there will be no excess of carbon dioxide, a harmful gas, in the blood stream thus maintaining a homeostatic environment (62). The much-needed oxygen is breathed in while the toxic carbon dioxide is released as waste. Consequently, the body generates energy through the cells and this is necessary for ones daily activities.

The pH scale ranges between 0-14 and measures a substances acidity or basicity. It ranges from 0-14 with the highest value representing the most alkaline condition while the lowest value signifies the highest acidity. Each biological structure and process requires a unique and ideal pH level for their smooth operation. For instance, proteins are denatured when exposed to abnormal pH conditions. Normality dictates that blood pH is maintained at 7.4. Any value below 7.2 or above 7.6 exposes the body to possible brain damage. When the hydrogen ions in the blood stream are in excessive amounts, then the pH is said to be very low while a deficit is equivalent to a high pH level. In existence are molecules that absorb or release ions to maintain the acidity levels at the ideal 7.4. These particles are called buffers, and they release hydrogen ions whenever there is a deficit and absorb them when they are in excess. The bicarbonate buffer set up maintains homeostasis in that a low pH triggers the bicarbonate- hydrogen ion bonding resulting in a pH rise. A high pH, on the other hand, causes the carbonic acid to release a hydrogen ion and the acidity level then drops. Whenever the acidity in the blood increases beyond normal, ventilation in the lungs increases. More carbon dioxide is expelled from the body while at the same time more oxygen is taken in hence lowering the acidity.

The Cardiovascular System and Homeostasis

          Also called the circulatory system, the cardiovascular system comprises the blood, veins, arteries, heart, and capillaries. The heart is tasked with pumping blood across these blood vessels hence regulating a constant blood flow to each cell in the body. Of this blood are food, hormones, and oxygen which are transported to these cells and in turn, metabolic waste products are eliminated from these. Resultantly, each cell maintains a constant internal environment (Chiras 112). Examples of metabolic wastes are nitrogenous and carbon dioxide. Additionally, the circulatory system plays a temperature and fluid regulation role.

          Whittemore and Denton indicate that all parts of the body receive a constant blood supply courtesy of the heart which pumps it (62-64). It consists of the atrium and the ventricle with the atrium receiving blood from the rest of the body through the superior vena cava and the latter releasing the blood to the body through the aorta. The atrium is enriched with millions of veins which drain blood from various parts of the body back into the body. The arteries, on the other hand, aid the ventricle in carrying blood away from the heart. The arterioles and venules need a connecting agent for the free exchange of nutrients and such is the role of the capillaries. Capillaries also enable the free exchange of metabolites between the blood and tissue, fluid, and this process is also aided partly by the lymphatic. The capillaries employ osmosis, filtration, and diffusion processes across their walls for the exchange of substances. Blood is the tissue that undergoes transportation in the cardiovascular system. 55% of blood is made up of plasma (the liquid part), and the remaining 45% comprises the platelets, white, and red blood cells (Whittemore and Denton 23).

          The circulatory system maintains homeostasis through a controlled flow of blood. This blood transports the much-needed oxygen and nutrients to other parts of the body such as the central nervous system. The spinal cord and the brain cannot do without glucose and oxygen. At the core part of the homeostatic system is the brain. It sends various control signals to all body organs and if it fails even for a second, the entire balance is lost. The heart, therefore, ensures that oxygenated blood reaches the brain cells together with nutrients such as glucose and any metabolic waste is released from it. Additionally, the cardiovascular system provides that muscular system; a vital system that aids in any bodily movement, receives the necessary oxygen supply without which, muscle cramping occurs.

          The temperature regulation process is made possible by the circulatory system in conjunction with the brain. For the body to function efficiently, then a narrow temperature range ought to be maintained. An increase in temperature causes the hypothalamus to send signals to the blood vessels hence those that are near the surface of the skin dilate. Any excess heat will then be dissipated through the surface and out of the body. Conversely, a decrease in internal temperatures triggers the constriction of these blood vessels, so that body heat is conserved. Other thermoregulation processes involve the arterioles where a temperature rise causes the smooth muscle lining of the arterioles to vasodilate. Resultantly, a large volume of blood flows to the surface of the skin hence creating a cooling effect. Vasoconstriction, on the other hand, minimizes the blood flow to the skin thus regulating heat loss.

          The movement of electrolytes, gasses, and nutrients in the body cells is made possible by fluid balance. The cardiovascular system in conjunction with the endocrine and nervous systems ensures that the levels of fluid in the body are kept at an optimum. These work in tandem such that each cell receives the appropriate amount of water for proper fluid balance. This water is transported in the blood. An excess of body fluids means that electrolyte balance will be pushed to dangerous limits causing the swelling of tissues. A deficit in these fluids causes an increase in bloods thickness thus prompting the heart to labor much harder in the pumping process, and this may end in high blood pressure. The cardiovascular system with the help of the urinary system seeks to maintain the blood liquid levels in that nay excesses as detected by the osmoreceptors causes a hormonal release. Homage is paid to the circulatory system for the transportation of these hormones which include the antidiuretic hormone (Whittemore and Denton 17). Consequently, the kidney decreases or increases urine production accordingly. Alternatively, fluid regulation is made possible by the sweat glands. Blood vessels constrict when there is a deficit hence preventing the unnecessary fluid loss and dilate when there is an excess so that that which has surpassed the ordinary is ejected.

The Respiratory System Collaborating with the Cardiovascular System

          The cardiovascular and respiratory systems are witnesses to the fact that no given body system works in isolation. Although each systems role is clearly defined, their inter-relationship cannot be undermined and the synchronous nature of their operation disregarded (Chiras 83). The vitality of the gas exchange process in the maintenance of a homeostatic environment should be realized. While the respiratory system enables the intake and consequent expulsion of gasses, this oxygen is made relevant by the circulatory system since it is the blood that carries it to the cells that need it. Deoxygenated blood is delivered to the lungs through the cardiovascular system. The pulmonary capillaries facilitate the exchange of carbon dioxide with oxygen, and this travels to the left side of the heart. This oxygen-rich blood is then sent to the ventricle and is pushed out with the necessary pressure so that it can reach the rest of the body. Intrinsically, the interdependence of the cardio and respiratory systems coined the term cardiorespiratory interaction to signify their intimacy.

Disorders and Resultant Malfunctions

          The symbiotic relationship between the respiratory and circulatory systems implies that any form of disease or malfunction in one of them greatly affects the functioning of the other. Respiratory disorders are inclusive of pneumonia, asthma, and influenza (Homma, Hiroshi and Yoshinosuke 71). Pneumonia causes the lungs to produce an excess of mucus and other fluids. Consequently, a person experiences breathing difficulties which in turn limit the amount of oxygen intake into the lungs. When the alveoli are inflamed, the lungs eventually lose their elasticity, and this is catastrophic. Asthma mainly attacks the bronchi and bronchioles. The bronchiole muscles constrict during breath intake thus blocking air from leaving the alveoli causing an over-inflation of the lungs. Mucus is then produced in excess, and the victim attempts to cough to clear the airway and release the trapped air. During a bronchial asthma attack, the mast cells release mediators whose aim is to contract the airway muscles and narrow the airways by increasing the mucous production. Subsequently, white blood cells bombard the affected area, and this makes the asthma attack to proceed. A cardiac asthma attack is more severe than a bronchial attack since it is triggered by the failure of the hearts left ventricle. Influenza, on the other hand, has damaging outcomes on the lung tissue. When left untreated, flu causes fluid accumulation in the lungs since some protein in the virus damages the epithelial cell lining of the lungs. This fluid inhibits the breathing process, and oxygen can then not reach the bloodstream. Additionally, the flu virus denatures the protein which is responsible for clearing any fluid in the lungs thus encouraging an oxidants build-up. The free levels of these oxidants create a toxic lung environment, and its normal operation is curtailed.

          Evidently, respiratory diseases and malfunctions share similarities in that they all result in breathing difficulties (Rogers 122). It implies that an affected person suffers the inability to intake air regularly. For that reason, the respiratory system fails to supply the suitable amount of oxygen to the blood vessels. The blood then cannot satisfy the cellular oxygen needs, and resultantly, cell damage occurs. The brain is most affected because it can only function without oxygen for up to six minutes. When this time elapses, an individual is predisposed to heart failure, and when a reverse process is impossible, death may be inevitable.

          Diseases that affect the cardiovascular system include hypertension, coronary artery disease, and heart failure (Olesky 34). For high blood pressure, the heart is overburdened causing the blood pressure levels to increase tremendously to such levels that are dangerous. Blood passes through the veins quicker than it normally should in addition to experiencing some resistance. Specifically, pulmonary hypertension occurs when the pulmonary arteries whose role is to carry blood to the lungs narrow causing blood pressure to escalate. The right ventricle is then forced to expand abnormally to accommodate this new pressure values. The ventricle then overworks to maintain this high blood pressure, and it becomes weak overtime and fails to pump the correct amount of blood to the heart. Coronary artery disease is brought about when the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart become narrower or in dire situations; completely blocked. The arteries harden up such that they cannot adequately provide oxygen and nutrients that would otherwise be supplied by the blood transported therein. Similarly, heart failure refers to the condition where the heart fails to pump as it normally should due to muscle damage. Consequently, water and salt are retained in the organ and the rest of the body is deprived of an adequate supply of blood and oxygen. This occurrence results swellings on the ankle and the victim also experiences a shortness of breath.

Without a doubt, any malfunction of the cardiovascular system directly sabotages the functioning of the respiratory system. Oxygen needs a medium of transportation; blood. It should be in constant supply and freely be flowing so that the homeostatic balance in the body is maintained. When any organ in the circulatory system malfunctions, blood circulation; and by default oxygen and nutrient circulation are curtailed. It is a no wonder that the only viable cure for a disease such as pulmonary hypertension is lung transplantation. It is a clear indication of the correlation between the two systems.

Effects of Cancer on the Respiratory System

One of the parts of the respiratory system that is most prone to cancerous attacks is the lungs. The onset of cancer of the lungs is characterized by the growth of unhealthy cells in the lungs. Eventually, tissues bordering those that have been affected by tumors and any other part of the respiratory system are gradually affected including the lymph nodes. According to Rogers, one of the principal causes of lung cancer is cigarette smoking whether passively or actively (17). However, pipe and cigar smokers are not an exception to the rule as research has shown that those who indulge in smoking these increase the chances of becoming victims of lung cancer by up to 25 times compared to those that do not smoke at all. However, non-smokers are also at a risk of suffering lung cancer especially if they are exposed to asbestos and radioactive dust. Symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain, among others are characteristic of lung cancer. Also, the cancerous cells may attack the trachea thus blocking the lungs from receiving an adequate air supply.

When lung cancer sets in, the standard functioning of the lung is inhibited. In the case of a tumor (a large number of abnormal cells), it blocks an airway such that no exchange of gases can take place. Consequently, the blood fails to receive oxygen for transportation and one suffers mild or severe breathing difficulties depending on the stage of the illness. Also, when the airway is barricaded, mucus and other fluids have a higher chance of getting trapped in the lungs. These fluids are prone to bacterial infections, and the lung is therefore at a risk of getting infected. If an infection in the lung occurs, then pus formation is inevitable. This pus then deposits itself in the air sacs causing obstructive pneumonia. The affected persons record shortness of breath and together with many chills and fevers. The illness then proceeds when fluid accumulates even further and occupies the lung volume all the way to the region between the ribs and the lungs. It is worth noting that the lungs are soft and spongy while the ribs are composed of strong muscle and bone. When the region between the chest and the lungs is filled with fluid, pressure from this fluid will overpower that from the fluid in the lungs (Rogers 143). The lung is then forced to succumb to this external force leading to the collapse of the air sacs in the lungs. Resultantly, airs access into the lungs is denied, and the victim experiences labored breathing. Since the lung malfunctions, the respiratory system fails to maintain homeostasis

          On the brighter side, it is possible to avoid and treat lung cancer. Preventive measures include quitting smoking and steering clear of people who smoke to evade the risk of being a passive smoker. A timely diagnosis means that treatment by radiation and chemotherapy could be effective in stopping the cancer cells from multiplying and preventing the risk of metastasis. Otherwise, laser therapy and targeted therapy, when combined, are effective in the treatment of lung cancer. With the help of friends, family, and support groups, one may soldier on with their life regardless of the outcomes of the treatment plan.

Effects of Cancer on the Cardiovascular System

          The cardiovascular system is not spared from cancerous attacks. A component of the circulatory system that is most affected by cancer is the blood. In particular, the white blood cells may suffer leukemia. Although researchers are yet to pinpoint the cause of leukemia, certain conditions are said to promote its occurrence. These include smoking, exposure to excessive radiations, and blood-related disorders. Signs such as petechiae, painful bones, night sweat, and nausea, could indicate the presence of leukemia hence the necessity to get tested.

Typically, the bone marrow produces white blood cells which are responsible for the protection of the body against harmful bacteria abnormal cells, and fungi. The lymph nodes, thymus gland, and the spleen also produce white blood cells. Leukemia results from the production of abnormal white blood cells. These do not work to prevent the body against infections but instead, grow and multiply in numbers to such a point where they overrun the normal functioning white blood cells. Inherently, an imbalance occurs, and the body is unable to effectively fight infections in addition to experiencing difficulties in oxygen transportation. Acute leukemia causes a fast build-up of abnormal white blood cells in the blood and bone marrow. The symptoms are rather pronounced. It can further be classified as acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia. Chronic leukemia also includes myeloid and lymphocytic (Olesky 33). These types exhibit little or no symptoms during the inception period but develop over time as the abnormal cells multiply. If left untreated, leukemia affects the lymph nodes and the central nervous system. These systems work to maintain homeostasis and they fail because of the imbalance caused by the cancerous cells.

An oncologist will determine the stage of which leukemia has progressed to before recommending a treatment plan. These include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and stem cell transplantation, among others. In chemotherapy, the necessary drugs are administered while radiation therapy employs radiations which destroy the incongruous white blood cells. Stem-cell transplantation is a process involving the removal of the defective bone marrow and a successive replacement with one which is healthy. The expectation after a bone marrow transplant is that there will be no more formation of defective white blood cells and therefore normalcy will resume once the healthy cells outnumber those that are defective.