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What Is the Relationship between Homeostasis and Temperature?

By Brandon May
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The body has many effective ways of maintaining homeostasis, especially when it comes to regulating body temperature. With homeostasis and temperature regulation, the body produces many mechanisms to help deal with the internal change of body temperature, many of which rely on the negative feedback system. Obvious methods such as removing or adding a garment of clothing can help with temperature regulation, as can the action of shivering, helping to cause a generation of internal heat. The body may also start to sweat, helping to carry heat away from the body to maintain a normal set body temperature.

When the body is exposed to a cooler or warmer temperature than the normal bodily temperature, or set point temperature, the body works hard to get the internal temperature back into alignment. In regards to homeostasis and temperature regulation, the body uses negative feedback to bring its internal temperature back into a normal balance. Negative feedback is a homeostatic control mechanism that works in the opposite direction of the initial change to help regulate that change and bring certain variables, such as body temperature, back to normal levels.

Thermoregulation is the term used to describe homeostasis and the regulation of temperature, which is governed by the hypothalamus gland within the brain. Both the hypothalamus and receptors in the skin help monitor changes in external and internal temperature, activating the negative feedback system when temperatures exceed or fall beyond normal levels, or the set point temperature. When this occurs, the effects of homeostasis and temperature control are visible and voluntary, mainly relating to consciously choosing to take off a garment or put one on to become cooler or warmer. In response to hotter conditions, the body may also react by producing sweat, which serves as a bodily cooling system.

With homeostasis and temperature control in regards to cooler temperatures, the body may start shivering to generate heat through increased activity in the muscles. The adrenal and thyroid glands may produce chemicals and hormones, such as adrenaline and thyroxine to help generate internal heat. Metabolic rate may also increase in response to colder temperatures, resulting in an increase in internal core body temperature. Vasodilation occurs in response to hotter temperatures, helping to carry heat away from the surface of the body, and is visibly seen when the skin changes to a light shade of red.

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Discussion Comments

By bluedolphin — On Feb 11, 2014

Another connection between homeostasis and temperature is the fact that an optimum temperature is necessary for enzymes in our body to work well. Enzyme activity affects metabolism, which in turn affects homeostasis.

For example, if someone constantly has a higher than normal internal temperature, enzymes will not work well. This will result in metabolic issues, such as problems in break down of food and glucose.

By literally45 — On Feb 10, 2014

@fBoyle-- I'm not an expert on this but I don't think that our body is in homeostasis when we are sick. In fact, that's why we are sick, because the factors that maintain homeostasis have been affected by causes of the illness, whether that's a virus, bacteria or the buildup of toxins.

Mechanisms in our body increase our body temperature when the immune system is fighting a virus or bacteria because that makes things easier. Most viruses and bacteria cannot survive in high temperatures. So a fever can kill some of them which gives our immune system cells a better chance at destroying the virus or bacteria.

That's why it's not necessarily bad that we have a high temperature. It does show however that our homeostasis is disrupted.

By fBoyle — On Feb 10, 2014

Why do have high temperature when we are ill? How is this related to homeostasis?

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