Internal Organs

November 12, 2012

Internal Organs

Some people say that we know more about space travel than we do about our bodies. At first thought you may tend to disagree but when you consider the complexity of the human body with all its organs doing diverse work every second of every day without wearing out too quickly it then becomes an impressive piece of work.

Internal organs are quite odd really, we all know that they are there and we know when they are working well and usually more painfully we know when they are not working so well. However the workings within us are impressive.

For example the next time you watch a game of tennis have a look at the size of the court. That’s equal to the surface area of an average size human lung. To be efficient the lung requires lots of surface area to let the blood be oxygenated sufficiently for everyday living. The way we get that much surface area inside our bodies is ingenious; the lungs are packed with thousands of microscopic capillaries which produce carbon dioxide which is breathed out while at the same time feeding the oxygen which has been breathed in to the blood.

And the names can be misleading too, for example the small intestine is actually the biggest organ inside us and it only fits into the abdominal cavity by being flexible enough to be looped back and forth. If we were to take it out its length is normally about four times as long as an adult.

Perhaps we should all carry a safety warning too because of the dangerous substances inside us. Our stomach contains acids are great at dissolving anything that we eat. However these are the same acids used that could just as easily devour metal too. They are safe in the stomach because of the make up of the stomach lining. But even the stomach lining replaces itself every three or four days because the acids wear out the mucus lining. If ever the acid does get through the lining it causes an ulcer, which is said to be one of the most painful things to have.

The heart is one of the best pumps around, it can build up enough pressure to squirt blood far greater than most people can imagine. Some people say up to 30 feet and anyone who has ever seen an arterial injury knows just how fast and forcefully the blood moves. To maintain such efficiency requires thick walls on the chambers, known as ventricles and these contract to provide the pumping action.

An average size adult heart is larger than a large grapefruit and the aorta, which is the superhighway for the blood being pumped around your body, is pretty similar to a garden hose in diameter. Anything less and it would not have the ability to pump enough oxygenated blood around.

Recent research has found that male and female hearts do not work in exactly the same manner. One of the main reasons is simply that women are smaller and this leads to their hearts beating faster. It is now commonplace for men and women with heart attacks to receive different treatments because of these differences in behavior.

Most people, without thinking, would say that both lungs are the same size, but your left lung is a bit smaller because your heart has to go somewhere, especially after reading about how special it is! Because the heart is at an angle off to the left a bit the left lung accommodates it by being slightly smaller.

Perhaps by now you have noticed that having one lung smaller than the other does not impact too much on your everyday living. In actual fact you could do without a lot more things. People can survive without a stomach, they can lose a lung and a kidney and the spleen can go too. On top of that three quarters of the liver and 80% of the intestines as well as some of the favorite bits around the groin and pelvis could be taken and you would not die. It wouldn’t be the best day of your life but there is no reason for it to be your last either.

And while we are discussing things disappearing did you know that your adrenal glands are about the same size as your kidneys when you are born? These glands sit close to the kidneys and they cause stress related hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to be released. They then begin to shrink and by the time you are a pensioner they are so small that seeing them is difficult.

The liver is another multifunctioning powerhouse; it’s been seen to have over 500 functions. The most obvious time we think about it is after a big night out and it’s doing overtime detoxifying your blood. But in addition to that it also carries out plasma protein synthesis, produces bile and decomposes red blood cells.

All of these organs have one thing in common, they all need blood to function well. Researchers estimate that an average human has 100,000 kilometers of blood cells. And you thought that you weren’t special, but now you know differently.

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