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What is homeostasis?

What is homeostasis and why is it important? What factors influence it? In this article, we explore key concepts .
cyclist drinking from water bottle
Homeostasis is the physiological constancy of the body despite external fluctuations.
In other words, homeostasis keeps the inside of our body functioning steadily, no matter what is happening on the outside. It is about regulating our body, for example, temperature, water content, and carbon dioxide.
The word homeostasis comes from the Greek words ‘homoios’ which means ‘same’, and ‘stasis’ which means ‘steady’ or ‘standing still’.
Homeostasis (homeo, unchanging + stasis, standing)

Living organisms need to maintain homeostasis constantly to survive. Homeostasis is essential for normal cell function and overall balance.

What factors influence homeostasis?

In normal situations, your body can monitor and regulate physiological processes well. Problems can occur when external influences push the body to extreme ranges of what is ‘normal’. External factors that can have a negative influence on body regulation mechanisms include:

  • extreme environmental conditions
  • disease
  • infection
  • drugs
  • toxins.

Internal influences which can negatively influence homeostasis include:

  • genetic conditions
  • metabolic disorders.

four images illustrating the above bullet points. drugs, snake, snowing, mask wearing to prevent infection, disease

There are so many things that your body has to control all of the time! We’ll look at five of these next.

This article is from the free online

Finding the Body’s Balance: Understanding Homeostasis

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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