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Understanding the Human Body - Part 1

Updated on September 29, 2012

The human body is a master piece designed over millions of years to the current state of structure and function. Since it is the knowledge on the structure and the function of the human body are vital to understand how the diseases affect us, a series of articles will be presented discussing the structure and the function of the human body.

The human body is made up of several systems, all of which contribute in different ways for the proper function. These systems include:

1. The cardiovascular system

2. The respiratory system

3. The gastro-intestinal system

4. The nervous system

5. The urinary system

6. The reproductive system

7. The endocrine system

8. The musculo-skeletal system

9. The sensory system

10. The immune system

1. The Cardiovascular System

The cardiovascular system is responsible for circulating blood in the body. It is composed of a heart, working as the pump and a vascular system, described in different names based on the caliber and the function as arteries, veins and capillaries. Blood functions as the medium of conduction of nutrients, oxygen, waste products as well as certain chemical signals (endocrine signals) and thus becomes part of the cardiovascular system.

2. The Respiratory System

The respiratory system is responsible for providing the blood with oxygen and removing carbondioxide from the blood. The system is made up of the airways and the respiratory membrane in the lungs. The airway includes the nostrils, nose or the nasal cavity, the throat or the pharynx and the voice box known as the larynx (seen as the Adam’s apple in the neck), the trachea or the air tube and small airways which are given different names based on their caliber. The respiratory membrane in the lungs is a thin layer forming a barrier between the air in the lungs and the blood in the vessels supplying the lungs.

3. The Gastro-intestinal System

The gastro-intestinal (GI) system provides the human body with the nutrients, or the fuel necessary for the human body o function optimally. These nutrients will be described in detail in a different article. The GI system is made up of a tube like structure extending from the mouth to the anus. The tube consists of the mouth, the oral cavity, the throat which is known medically as the pharynx, the food tube or the oesphagus, the small and the large intestines, the rectum and the anus. In addition to these, the liver, the pancreas and the gall bladder are also part of the GI system functioning in association with the intestines. The GI system absorbs the important nutrients from the food that is eaten, and removes the unabsorbable material as faeces or stools.

4. The Urinary System

The urinary system functions as the main system of excretion of waste products. In other words, it removes the majority waste products formed in the body in the form of urine. The system includes the kidneys, which act as the main excretory organ in the body, the conduits of urine known as the ureters, the store of urine, known as the urinary bladder and the out-flow tract of urine known as the urethra, which is much longer in males compared to the short urethra in females. The kidneys filter the excessive water and the waste products from the blood and form urine to be delivered out of the body via the conducting plumbing.

In the next article of the series, we discuss how the nervous system and the endocrine system regulate and maintain the balance of the human body along with a discussion on the reproductive system. The third article of the series will be aimed at giving and over-view of the sensory system, the musculo-skeletal system and the immune system.


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    • Lindani Khumalo profile image

      lindani kumalo 3 years ago from jo'burg

      this is nice and direct, a quick guide to the body's function if ever there was one, i like it...