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Author(s): Wade Haaland

Disruption of Homeostasis

There are numerous ways to disrupt homeostasis, and the results of this disruption can vary in severity. Failure to achieve or restore homeostasis can result in death, which can be considered the ultimate disruption of homeostasis.

Injuries can have severe homeostatic consequences. A punctured lung, for example, will disrupt the flow of oxygen to the body. Cells in the brain cannot be deprived of oxygen for extended periods of time without dire consequences.

Illness also will cause a temporary disruption of homeostasis. Fever, a common symptom of a cold or flu, is a disruption of the body's constant internal temperature. It usually is a sign that our body is fighting an infection of some type and, therefore, might be considered a good sign. After the illness subsides, the fever breaks and the normal, constant body temperature is re-achieved. However, an unchecked fever can damage neurons and organs, or even result in death..

Some disruptions in homeostasis are genetic. For example, a disease such as diabetes, to which some people have a genetic predisposition, can disrupt homeostasis. In addition, lifestyle factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, and a fatty diet-which also can disrupt homeostasis-have been shown to enhance one's chances of becoming diabetic. Not surprisingly, an individual with poor health habits is more likely to have problems maintaining homeostasis than a person with good health habits.