Homeostasis – Concept, types, examples and importance

We explain what homeostasis is and some examples of this balance. Also, the types of homeostasis and why it is important.

Homeostasis - respiration
Homeostasis is carried out through feedback and control processes.

What is homeostasis?

Homeostasis is the balance that occurs in an internal environment. Also known as “homeostasis”, it consists of the tendency of any system, including living beings, to adapt to changes and maintain a stable and constant internal environment.

This balance It is produced from adaptive responses that aim to preserve health. Homeostasis is carried out through feedback and control processes. When an imbalance is generated within the body, these two processes make it possible to regain the lost balance.

Homeostasis is characterized by its continuity, for which it needs the registration and regulation processes of various parameters. What’s more, its efficiency varies over time in living beings.

In organisms, homeostasis depends both on the external environment (the link between the living being and the environment in which it is found) and on the internal environment (the generation and elimination of certain substances or wastes).

Examples of homeostasis

Homeostasis - perspiration
In perspiration, the secretion of liquid substances on the skin is recorded.

Homeostasis processes are observed in various situations, such as:

  • Perspiration. In this process, the secretion of liquid substances on the skin is recorded. The evaporation of these substances helps to cool the body and reduce the increase in internal temperature.
  • Breathing. Since breathing is an involuntary activity, the nervous system must intervene to maintain its balance. This guarantees the oxygen levels that the body needs to stay alive.
  • Run away from the sun. Faced with extreme sun exposure that can be registered, for example, in a desert, cold-blooded animals take refuge in cool spaces. This response helps lower body temperature.
  • Regulation of blood pressure. In this case, the balance is produced from a signal that the heart sends to the brain after detecting a change in blood pressure. If the pressure is very low, the heart will have to accelerate it while if it is very high, it will have to decrease it.
  • Acceleration of respiration. This process aims to increase the amount of air breathed. This is activated, for example, when a person does physical activity or sports, which reduces the oxygen levels in the blood. It can also start when the body is immersed in an environment with low oxygen concentration. During this balancing process, not only does breathing accelerate, but also the speed of the heartbeat and blood pressure rise. All this improves the irrigation of the oxygenated blood.
  • Maintenance of glucose levels. In this case, the balance process aims to maintain adequate glucose levels so that the human being remains healthy. When glucose levels are very high, the pancreas releases insulin, while if those levels are very low, the liver transforms the glycogen in the blood into glucose.
  • Water levels. In living beings, water represents a significant percentage of its composition, so maintaining its balance is vital. Its balance is maintained to prevent excess water from causing cells to explode or, due to lack of water, those same cells from reducing their size.
  • Regulation of blood pH. Homeostasis occurs, in this case, from the waste of acids that endanger the appropriate level of acidity in the blood. The waste is generated through biochemical control and different surveillance systems.
  • Shaking. This process of homeostasis occurs when the body registers a drop in ambient temperature, which is counteracted by a tremor of the muscles.
  • Urinary system. This system is responsible for eliminating, through urine, toxins in the blood that affect homeostasis.
  • Activation of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is activated when a virus or bacteria enters the body. In these circumstances, the lymphatic system counteracts these viruses or bacteria to ensure the health of the body.
  • Sun exposure. This process of homeostasis is recorded in reptiles, which lack the ability to regulate their internal temperature autonomously. Due to this inability, cold-blooded animals are exposed to the sun and this helps them to energize their metabolisms and increase their body temperature.
  • Calcium control. In this balancing process, the parathyroids release hormones to increase calcium levels, and to reduce it, they fix calcium in the bones.

Types of homeostasis

Homeostasis - water levels
Avoidance seeks to reduce the impact of environmental transformations on the body.

Faced with the interactions that the organism maintains with the environment in which it is found, three types of responses can be identified:

  • Regulation. Faced with a change in the environment, the organism triggers compensatory actions to keep the internal environment fairly constant.
  • Avoidance. This balancing process seeks to reduce the impact of environmental transformations on the body through behavioral escape mechanisms to avoid temporary environmental or environmental changes.
  • Accordance. During this equilibrium process, the organism changes in line with the changes that are registered in the environment.

Importance of homeostasis

Thanks to the fact that homeostasis aspires to the search for balance, it is that organisms do not enter a state of entropy, that is, of chaos.

If homeostasis processes for any reason fail, disease or death of the organism occurs. If the organism fails to maintain its biological parameters within the limits of normality, a disease occurs that can lead to the death of the organism in question.