Friday, May 20, 2011

When you are cold, why do you get the shivers?

The hypothalamus, located right above the brain stem, serves to link the nervous system and endocrine system. The hypothalamus helps control heat, thirst, hunger, sleep, and many other functions. When you are cold, the hypothalamus sends messages to your muscles to warm you up. In order to generate heat, the cells in your body begin to move rapidly. The shivering you experience when you are cold is a natural reflex that causes the hypothalamus to send messages to the body to help you warm yourself.

Source:Hillendale Health, Kids Health

Are Sea Horses and Sea Dragons the Same?

Seahorses and sea dragons are unique in the animal kingdom because it's the male that gets pregnant and gives birth. Unlike seahorses, who carry eggs in a bulging brood pouch, sea dragons affix them to the undersides of their tails for the duration of the pregnancy.

After courtship, the female pushes the eggs onto a soft patch of tissue on the male’s tail. This tissue then surrounds the fragile eggs and holds them in place.

Source: Monterrey Bay Aquarium

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Approximately how many nephrons are in a kidney?

Nephrons are functional units of the kidney that actually produce the urine by excreting waste and excess substances. There are about 1 million nephrons in a human kidney, but nephron number does decrease with age.

What causes gas?

Gas and gas pains are most commonly caused by swallowing too much air and by bacterial breakdown in intestines.

Undigested carbohydrates in the small intestine and fermented by bacteria in your colon. The unabsorbed substances are typically fibers and sugars, and the bacteria causes the production of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane in the form of flatulence. The bacteria as it breaks down rotting substances is what typically causes the unpleasant smell.

Gas can also be caused by swallowing too much air! This typically comes out at burps and belches. We swallow air all the time, just don’t often notice. We most often swallow air by chewing gum, smoking, eating too fast, and old people who’s dentures are not properly fitted!

Various high fiber foods, antibiotics, laxatives, and food intolerances can also be culprits for flatulence and gas pains.

Why do kids with asthma carrying around an inhaler? What exactly is in there?

A drug called albuterol is what’s inside an inhaler. What asthma does is make the small tubes in your lungs called bronchioles contract, making it hard for oxygen to get through your lungs to alveoli.

That’s why it’s very tough for asthmatics to breathe during an asthma attack. What the albuterol does is act as a muscle relaxant. As the albuterol travels through the bronchioles, it relaxes the bronchioles tubes, which are made of smooth muscle, allowing for air to get through.

What is the effect of the hormone estrogen in females, and what relation does it have to emotions?

There are three different types of estrogen created naturally in women. They are Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2), and Estriol (E3).

The most common form of estrogen found in women who are not pregnant is estradiol (E2) as Estriol is the primary estrogen produced during pregnancy, and Estron is introduced in the body during menopause. They are mostly produced in the ovaries by developing follicles. These follicles are called corpus luteum and placenta. This process starts in the internal cells in the ovary by the synthesis of Androstenedione, 19-carbon steroid hormone, from cholesterol.

Then this compound is converted to estrogen Estrone or Estradiol, usually immediately. Estrogen can also be produced in other tissues such as the liver, breasts, or in fat cells which is why being over or underweight in woman can be dangerous to fertility.

As far as estrogen affecting emotions in woman this usually happens just before or during the menstrual cycle. During this time the woman’s estrogen levels spike to thin out the blood in the body. This also seems to make women extra emotional although the reasons as to why remains a mystery to scientists and doctors. It is thought it has something to do with the fact that it is active in every part of the body including the part of the brain that controls emotions and releases endorphins into the body.

What kind of damage does Alzheimer’s disease do to the nervous system?

Alzheimer’s disease which affects the victims’ memory, emotions, responses, and reasoning. Primarily, the disease affects the cerebral cortex, which governs movement, thought, and judgment, and the hippocampus, which controls learning and processing.

Alzheimer’s irreversibly damages the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex by forming plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the affected cells. Slowly, the tangles and plaques spread to healthy brain cells until the brain cannot function any longer. The disease decreases the amount of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter necessary for brain processes) in the cerebral cortex. This is caused by the deterioration of neurons that produce acetylcholine by the protein, beta amyloid.

Essentially, the tangles and plaques take up space in the brain and spread until the affected cells far outnumber the functioning, healthy cells.

Are Muscles Attractive to Women?

Apparently so. This question can be answered with a study done that shows that people who are “ripped or on da swole patrol” are likely to receive a higher amount of education, obtain a higher paying job, accept health and life insurance, and are more likely to marry than the non-muscular person.

Even in movies or advertisements, the stereotypical “dream guy” is a muscular jock with his shirt off. Therefore, beginning at young ages, girls begin to learn by societal beliefs that muscular men are more likely to succeed in their endeavors.

Appears that culture and peer pressure is in play here.

Why is Protein Necessary for Building Muscles?

During physical activity, one breaks down their muscles for fuel. In order to build muscle, the body needs to be in an anabolic state. In order to be in an anabolic state, the body must have a sufficient amount of protein. An anabolic state requires having a positive nitrogen balance, which is why protein is great (protein is made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen).

Protein helps repair and rebuild muscle tissue, after it is broken down. In order to repair and rebuild muscle tissue, the body needs amino acids, which are the building blocks for the body’s muscles, which come from protein.

Why and how do we get “goose bumps”?

Most people are prone to get “goose bumps” when they are cold, excited, or in awe. Biologically, however, the process is much more complicated. Cold temperature will serve as the stimulus in this explanation. Almost all people have been surprised by a shock of cold and received goose bumps, or cutis anserina. They are caused by nerve cells reacting to the stimulus, sending a message to the brain, and hormones releasing to insulate the skin. The body functions so that it maintains homeostasis, so when the brain receives the message “cold”, it reacts.

The message is sent to a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, the part that regulates hormones and is also said to connect the physical and spiritual body. The hypothalamus scientifically connects the nervous system to the endocrine system, and is also the part of the brain that stimulate emotions.

Beneath the hypothalamus is the pituitary gland, which is connected to the hypothalamus by neurosecretory cells. The pituitary gland releases hormones into the blood stream which are rushed to the affected area(s), and create “goose bumps”. The hormones that stimulate “goose bumps” cause tiny muscles at the base of each hair to contract and cause the hair to erect. This process is for insulation, and is one of the ways of how the body most efficiently maintains heat.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Does caffeine have an effect on nutrients absorbed by the body?

Yes, caffeine promotes the excretion of calcium which is released in excrements and inhibits the calcium absorbed in the small intestine. It also limits Vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, copper, and iron absorption which decreases overall health. Caffeine also increases urination. In moderation, 2-4 8 oz cups of coffee per day, caffeine is not too influential, but too much could affect overall health.

Sources: Fit Day; Lifetime Fitness, Mayo Clinic

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What causes a heart murmer?

Believe it or not, heart murmers are harmless most of the time. However, occasionally, they can be caused by a damaged or overworked valve. This is a common problem at birth and may also occur due to diseases or illnesses. Pregnancy, anemia, high blood pressure, and fever are a few factors that may alter the rate of blood flow in the heart, resulting in a heart murmer. These causes usually result in only harmless heart murmers. Septal defects, holes between chambers of the heart, can cause an abnormal heart murmer, or shunts, abnormal amounts of blood flow. It can also be caused by stenosis, when not enough blood can be conveyed by the valves, or regurgitation, when the valves don't completely close or have a leak. Rheumatic fever can affect the heart valves as can endocarditis, a disease that can actually destroy the valves. Valve calcification, build-up in the valves, can cause heart murmers.

Mayo Clinic

What are complications that can occur in blood clotting?

A deep vein thrombosis occurs when an unneeded blood clot forms in a major vein, usually a leg. If this clot travels to the lungs it is called a pulmonary embolism. One-third of people who suffer from a pulmonary embolism will die. Blood thinning medicines can help with this problem. Also, a vena cava filter implanted surgically, can catch and rid the body of the clot.

Risk factors include smoking, lack of exercise, unhealthy eating, and other unhealthy habits. On the other hand, if blood fails to clot at a cut or abrasion, this could be a symptom of hemophilia or von Willebrand disease. The von Willebrand factor links the platelets, cell fragments in the blood, to the collagen, a fiber, that causes blood clotting. A lack of or mutant of this factor causes von Willebrand disease. When factors 8 and 9, found on the X chromosome, are mutated or missing, this causes hemophilia. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, and sometimes, injections from blood donors can also help.

Everyday Health

Monday, May 9, 2011

What is the difference between a heart attack and a stroke?

A heart attack occurs when blood supply is cut off to a portion of the heart. Some warning signs of a heart attack is shortness of breath, chest discomfort, possible cold sweat and light headedness.

A stroke happens when blood supply is cut off from a blood clot in the brain. Unlike a heart attack in a stroke there is usually no pain. Some warning signs of a stroke are numbness and weakness of face, arms, or legs. It also causes confusion,trouble speaking, dizziness, trouble seeing, and sudden headaches.

Source: American Heart Association

Why do people use artificial pacemakers?

A Pacemaker is a small device that is placed in your abdomen or chest, it regulates problems with ones heart rate or rhythm. Blood may be pumping too fast or too slow, causing fatigue, shortness of breath, and can possibly damage internal organs. Pacemakers help reduce risk of heart attack and can save peoples lives.

Source:National heart, lung, and blood institute

What is the survival time for human egg and sperm?

An egg lives for about 12-24 hours after ovulation. Sperm can live for 5-7 days. Most typically only one egg comes from the ovary through the fallopian tube and into the uterus. Since the sperm is able to live for about a week, pregnancy is possible even if you have intercourse before you ovulate.

During a female’s menstrual cycle, when is it most likely that pregnancy will occur?

Pregnancy is most likely to occur during ovulation, which is about the middle of the menstrual cycle. But,you do not have to have sex on that day in order to get pregnant. Due to the life of the sperm, having sex within a week of ovulation may result in pregnancy.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's dirtier than a toilet seat?

Actually a lot of things are dirtier than a toilet seat. A recent article in Consumer Reports came up with another item to add to the list of dirty things - the steering wheel of your car!

Here's something to chew on the next time you're chowing down while behind the steering wheel. You're eating in a spot that's roughly nine times dirtier than a public toilet seat.

That's what microbiologists at Queen Mary University of London, England found when they did a small research study for B&Q, a UK-based home and garden retailer.

On average, they found that the steering wheels, driver's seat floor, rear seats and gear shift lever contained an average of 700 bacteria per 10 square centimeters. The worst area: The car's trunk with 1,000 per 10 square centimeters. Public toilet seats, note the researchers, contain on average 80 bugs per 10 square centimeters.

Source: Consumer Reports 4/28/11

What is the difference between a sting ray and manta ray?

One of the main differences between the sting ray and the manta ray is size. The manta ray is quite a bit bigger than a sting ray.

More importantly, the manta ray does no have stingers so in spite of it's size it is not a threat. Manta rays are harmless plankton eaters that neither bite, sting nor charge.

How Long is a Lamprey and What Fish Does It Live On?

Adult sea lamprey range from 14 to 24 inches in length. Sea lamprey uses its suction disk mouth which is filled with small sharp, rasping teeth and a file-like tongue to attach to fish, puncture the skin, and drain the fish's body fluids. An anticoagulant in their saliva ensures that the blood of the host fish does not clot while the sea lamprey feed.

Often the host fish die from loss of blood, or infections resulting from stress. Fish that survive sea lamprey attacks will have decreased reproduction. Sea lamprey in prefer landlocked salmon, lake trout and other trout species, due to their small scales and thin skin.