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Narrow range of atmospheric pressure

Pressure is a force exerted by a substance that is in contact with another substance. Atmospheric pressure is pressure exerted by the mixture of gases (primarily nitrogen and oxygen) in the Earth’s atmosphere. Although you may not perceive it, atmospheric pressure is constantly pressing down on your body. This pressure keeps gases within your body, such as the gaseous nitrogen in body fluids, dissolved. If you were suddenly ejected from a space ship above Earth’s atmosphere, you would go from a situation of normal pressure to one of very low pressure. The pressure of the nitrogen gas in your blood would be much higher than the pressure of nitrogen in the space surrounding your body. As a result, the nitrogen gas in your blood would expand, forming bubbles that could block blood vessels and even cause cells to break apart.

Atmospheric pressure does more than just keep blood gases dissolved. Your ability to breathe—that is, to take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide—also depends upon a precise atmospheric pressure. Altitude sickness occurs in part because the atmosphere at high altitudes exerts less pressure, reducing the exchange of these gases, and causing shortness of breath, confusion, headache, lethargy, and nausea. Mountain climbers carry oxygen to reduce the effects of both low oxygen levels and low barometric pressure at higher altitudes ( [link] ).

Harsh conditions

This photo shows Mount Everest as seen from a distance. It is a large, pyramid-shaped, craggy peak with many smaller snow-covered peaks in the foreground. The peak of Mount Everest is partially occluded by clouds.
Climbers on Mount Everest must accommodate extreme cold, low oxygen levels, and low barometric pressure in an environment hostile to human life. (credit: Melanie Ko/flickr)

Homeostatic imbalances

Decompression sickness

Decompression sickness (DCS) is a condition in which gases dissolved in the blood or in other body tissues are no longer dissolved following a reduction in pressure on the body. This condition affects underwater divers who surface from a deep dive too quickly, and it can affect pilots flying at high altitudes in planes with unpressurized cabins. Divers often call this condition “the bends,” a reference to joint pain that is a symptom of DCS.

In all cases, DCS is brought about by a reduction in barometric pressure. At high altitude, barometric pressure is much less than on Earth’s surface because pressure is produced by the weight of the column of air above the body pressing down on the body. The very great pressures on divers in deep water are likewise from the weight of a column of water pressing down on the body. For divers, DCS occurs at normal barometric pressure (at sea level), but it is brought on by the relatively rapid decrease of pressure as divers rise from the high pressure conditions of deep water to the now low, by comparison, pressure at sea level. Not surprisingly, diving in deep mountain lakes, where barometric pressure at the surface of the lake is less than that at sea level is more likely to result in DCS than diving in water at sea level.

In DCS, gases dissolved in the blood (primarily nitrogen) come rapidly out of solution, forming bubbles in the blood and in other body tissues. This occurs because when pressure of a gas over a liquid is decreased, the amount of gas that can remain dissolved in the liquid also is decreased. It is air pressure that keeps your normal blood gases dissolved in the blood. When pressure is reduced, less gas remains dissolved. You have seen this in effect when you open a carbonated drink. Removing the seal of the bottle reduces the pressure of the gas over the liquid. This in turn causes bubbles as dissolved gases (in this case, carbon dioxide) come out of solution in the liquid.

The most common symptoms of DCS are pain in the joints, with headache and disturbances of vision occurring in 10 percent to 15 percent of cases. Left untreated, very severe DCS can result in death. Immediate treatment is with pure oxygen. The affected person is then moved into a hyperbaric chamber. A hyperbaric chamber is a reinforced, closed chamber that is pressurized to greater than atmospheric pressure. It treats DCS by repressurizing the body so that pressure can then be removed much more gradually. Because the hyperbaric chamber introduces oxygen to the body at high pressure, it increases the concentration of oxygen in the blood. This has the effect of replacing some of the nitrogen in the blood with oxygen, which is easier to tolerate out of solution.

The dynamic pressure of body fluids is also important to human survival. For example, blood pressure, which is the pressure exerted by blood as it flows within blood vessels, must be great enough to enable blood to reach all body tissues, and yet low enough to ensure that the delicate blood vessels can withstand the friction and force of the pulsating flow of pressurized blood.

Chapter review

Humans cannot survive for more than a few minutes without oxygen, for more than several days without water, and for more than several weeks without carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Although the body can respond to high temperatures by sweating and to low temperatures by shivering and increased fuel consumption, long-term exposure to extreme heat and cold is not compatible with survival. The body requires a precise atmospheric pressure to maintain its gases in solution and to facilitate respiration—the intake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide. Humans also require blood pressure high enough to ensure that blood reaches all body tissues but low enough to avoid damage to blood vessels.

Questions & Answers

Functions of the thoracic cage
Fereh Reply
protect all the organs and tissues from any impact or injury
Javier
why sickle cell carrier people don't get malaria
Boakye Reply
What is the amniotic fluid
bollywood Reply
structure of heart and it's function (10 mark )
Priyanka Reply
What is the best book on physiology?
cesar Reply
describe varicocele
malulu
what do you mean by peritoneum
Siba Reply
It is thick covering surrounding the abdomen
Awais
r8
how to become good in Anatomy and physiology
malulu
hi
Milkah
hlo
Wani
What are is the last solution to abdomen pain in pregnant women
Umoru
no it is in kidney
Tantray
Kk
Umoru
structure of heart and it's function
Priyanka
Serous membrane lining the cavity of the abdomen
bollywood
it is four lobs structure and it is triangular in shaped. it 's function pumping the blood
ABDULLAH
explain root of lungs
ABDULLAH
Glomerular pressure -capsule pressure -colloid osmosis pressure
malulu Reply
how to describe mechanism of micturition
malulu
spleen is important?
AKASH Reply
helpful in destruction of rbc
It is imp in storing blood and destruction of microbes and harmful particles
Awais
ty sir
AKASH
K
Umoru
what are the sources of glucose in the body
malulu
describe mechanism of micturition
malulu
Pancreatic hormones with function
mami Reply
Insulin, which helps to regulate our blood sugar levels.
Bb
glucagon which is antagonistic to insulin increase the blood glucose level,. Somatostatin help to regulate the levels of both insulin and glucagon
Ashish
thnks for helping
nimco
thanks
Narendra
what is a lymph node.?
AKASH
lymph nodes are small kidney shaped organs of the lymphatic system.
Trishauna
there are several hundred lymph nodes found mostly throughout the thorax and abdomen of the body with the highest concentrations in the auxiliary (armpit) and inguinal groin regions.
Trishauna
what is life
Yar Reply
life is the existence of an individual human being animal or plant
Furmose
how I join this
Ahmed
meaning
Furmose
to day I am new person and I can't participate questions so to morow I shall participate question sopleas excuse me
Ahmed
I had a debate earlier about nutrition and it didn't get a clear answer on that,can one tell me what the definition of nutrition.?
kelvin
the nutrition is nourish person is feeling an nutrition
Ahmed
I think nutrition is the process of taking food and using it for growth, metabolism and repair.
Methila
life is full of happy and sorrow
Sanamacha
life is achievement
Nandini
life is the nothing but god gave us 1 body. and we all service k in this body. The things which we do for the Survivation for this body I felt that this is called as the life
AKASH
Yes God gave us life but not god who gave us the life. Hope u understood what i meant by God n not god who gave life..... ?
laku
What's the question?
Sherman Reply
once you lose pigmentation can you ever get it back
Shannon Reply
s
Nandini
females are lesser prone to acne
Ritika Reply
why please expain
Janvi
described the skin
Yayra Reply
skin is outer covery of human body and it is largest organ of human body. it do three fauntion protection regulation and sensation of human body that is men fauntion of human skin it has seven part.
ABDULLAH
how thick is the epidermis?
Sovilace
the integumentary system is the largest system of the body 16% of body weight and 1.5 to 2m² in area
Trishauna
function of the endocrine system
Hamo Reply
produces hormones that plays specific functions
has endocrine gland calld as ductless gland so as produces hormones

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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