Skin Blood Flow in Human Adult Thermoregulation How and Why it Works Research Proposal

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Skin Blood Flow

Thermoregulation is the regulation of temperature. More concretely it is the maintenance of a particular temperature of the living body. Organisms that do not have thermoregulation and protective functions would have been eliminated through natural selection. There are various strategies that the body uses to control temperature (Lim et al., 2008). These strategies are also utilized to control physiological homeostasis. When the entire body is heating there are certain temperature thresholds that are reach so that cutaneous vasodilation and sweating can take place (Charkoudian, 2003). These thresholds are referred to as the internal temperatures at which cutaneous vasodilation or sweating starts. In addition, the research found that blood skin flow control can be local and reflexive. This local control occurs as it pertains to warming and cooling of the skin. When the local area is in a warm environment veins and arteries expand to allow for blood flow. On the other hand when the local area is cold the veins and arteries narrow. There are certain factors that influence the thermoregulatory system including menopause and diabetes. These two factors can greatly alter skin blood flow and the way that the thermoregulatory system operates. During menopause hot flashes and night sweats occur as a result of hormonal fluctuations. Individuals with diabetes have a more difficult time regulating body temperature in extremely hot conditions.


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The manner in which the human body functions is intriguing on many different levels. Skin blood flow in Adult Human Thermoregulation is one of the most intriguing aspects of human function. Thermoregulation is the aspect of physiological function that ensures that human being maintain the proper temperature. There are different aspects of thermoregulation and the need for such regulation in the human body. Overall, The purpose of this discussion is to examine how Skin blood flow in Adult Human Thermoregulation works. The research will focus on the factors that can effect human skin blood flow and thermoregulation including menopause and diabetes.

Research Proposal on Skin Blood Flow in Human Adult Thermoregulation How and Why it Works Assignment

Human circulatory system

Before a discussion about skin blood flow can ensue, there an explanation of the human circulatory system must occur. According to the National Institutes of health the heart and blood vessels are the two elements that compose the blood circulatory system. In addition there are four subsystems that makeup the circulatory system. These subsystems are as follows

Arterial Circulation- this is the aspect of the circulatory system that includes the arteries such as pulmonary arteries and the aorta. Arteries are defines as blood vessels that are responsible that carries blood away from the heart. According to NIH when arteries are healthy they are elastic and strong. Between heartbeats the arteries actually become narrow and arteries also assist in regulating blood pressure. Additionally the arteries branch off into arterioles which are smaller blood vessels. Both arteries and arterioles strong walls that permit them to "alter the amount and rate of blood flowing to different parts of your body ("Circulation and Blood Vessels")."

Venous Circulation - this subsystem has involves veins including the vena cavae and pulmonary veins ("Circulation and Blood Vessels"). Veins are defined as the blood vessels that are responsible for supplying blood to the heart. Veins are different from arteries in that they have thinner walls. In addition veins are able to increase in size to accommodate the quantity of blood passing through them ("Circulation and Blood Vessels").

Capillary Circulation- Capillaries are small blood vessels that are responsible for passing nutrients, oxygen, and waste between the blood and other parts of the body. In addition capillaries link the arterial and venous circulatory subsystems. . According to the NIH

"The importance of capillaries lies in their very thin walls. Unlike arteries and veins, capillary walls are thin enough that oxygen and nutrients in your blood can pass through the walls to the parts of your body that need them to function normally. Capillaries' thin walls also allow waste products like carbon dioxide to pass from your body's organs and tissues into the blood where it's taken away to your lungs ("Circulation and Blood Vessels")."

Pulmonary Circulation- Pulmonary circulation involves the movement of blood from the heart to the lungs and back to the heart again. Pulmonary circulation is inclusive of both arterial and venous circulation ("Circulation and Blood Vessels"). Blood that lacks oxygen is passed to the lungs from the heart. This is known as arterial circulation. In addition, blood with oxygen moves from the lungs to the heart through the pulmonary veins ("Circulation and Blood Vessels"). This is known as venous circulation.

Pulmonary circulation also requires capillary circulation ("Circulation and Blood Vessels").The Oxygen that is taken into the lungs through breathing passes through your lungs and into the blood through the many capillaries found in the lungs ( "Circulation and Blood Vessels"). In addition, Capillaries in the lungs also remove carbon dioxide from your blood so that your lungs can breathe the carbon dioxide out into the air ("Circulation and Blood Vessels").

The circulatory system is a critical aspect of thermoregulation. The circulatory system works in unison with the thermoregulatory system to provide skin blood flow. Now that we have provided an explanation of the circulatory system let us focus on thermoregulation.


Thermoregulation is defined as "the maintenance or regulation of temperature; specifically: the maintenance of a particular temperature of the living body ("Thermoregulation")." According to Lim et al. (2008) the capacity to perceive and normalize body temperature is an important aspect of human survival. In addition, "a deviation of ± 3.5°C from the resting temperature of 37°C can cause physiological impairments and fatality (Lim et al., 2008)."

The picture to the left is a depiction of how thermoregulation actually occurs and the process by which the body normalizes temperature. Thermoregulation is essential to the maintenance of the proper body temperature.

The authors explain that heat most likely played a significant part in the creation and continued existence of the first unicellular organism . The authors also explain that the capacity to perceive and control body temperature also contributed to the development of these unicellular organisms to multicellular cold blooded animals and warm-blooded mammals (Lim et al., 2008).

Organisms that do not have thermoregulation and protective functions would have been eliminated through natural selection. There are various strategies that the body uses to control temperature (Lim et al., 2008). These strategies are also utilized to control physiological homeostasis. For instance animals that are cold blooded regulate their temperature through reliance on external heat sources known as ectotherms (Lim et al., 2008). When the body temperature of cold blooded animals are low they are dormant. However when the body temperature rises they become active so that they can seek food and shelters. They are able to heat their bodies based on the temperature of the environment. On the other hand, people are endotherms because heat is derived from internal sources to control the body temperature. In addition in human beings body temperature is controlled by a combination of absorption, heat production and loss.

The authors explain that just as with "the first living cell on earth, thermo-sensitivity, thermoregulation, and thermo-protection remain a central part of physiological homeostasis and survival, and are necessary properties for living organisms to operate proficiently in their environment (Lim et al., 2008)."

For the purpose of this discussion the focus will be on physiological thermoregulation. According to Charkoudian (2003) physiological thermoregulation in humans is associated with s changes in heat dissipation (cutaneous vasodilation and sweating) and heat generation (shivering) which are caused by changes in both internal and external thermal stimuli (Charkoudian, 2003). The author explains that the primary control for thermoregulation is found in the preoptic/anterior hypothalamus (PO/AH) in the brain. Additionally information involving the internal (core) and surface (skin) temperatures is given to the PO/AH, which is then responsible for coordinating the applicable reaction (Charkoudian, 2003). In theory, this part of the human brain can be compared to a thermostat, that is responsible for initiating heat dissipation responses when it recognizes that body temperature is "too hot" and conserving or producing heat when body temperature is too cold (Charkoudian, 2003) .

So then it has been established that thermoregulation in the human body is responsible for regulating body temperature. Thus far the research has illustrated that cold-blooded animals are ectotherms while warm-blooded are endotherms. That is cold-blooded animals such as reptiles have thermoregulatory stems that are controlled by conditions outside of the body -- the environment. On the other hand warm-blooded animals have thermoregulatory systems that are governed by internal conditions. Now that a greater understanding of the human regulatory system has been garnered the discussion will focus on the Skin Blood Flow and Thermoregulation.

Skin Blood Flow and Thermoregulation

According to Charkoudian (2003) skin flow in human beings changes as thermal stress occurs. In fact thermoregulatory vasodilation in humans rises when thermal stress occurs. The author explains that when a human being is suffering from severe hyperthermia thermoregulatory vasodilation can increase skin blood flow to 6 to 8 L/min (Charkoudian, 2003). The… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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