Thermoregulatory Control Case Study

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Introduction
As homeotherms, humans have the ability to control thermoregulatory mechanisms: physiological processes that are critical to maintaining core temperature within a very narrow limit. Although peripheral temperature fluctuates regularly & often largely in response to ambient temperature, core temperature must be maintained within a tight window in order for the human body to function properly. Throughout the course of circadian rhythm, the body’s core temperature can fluctuate by up to 0.5C. Only through exercise, illness, & external heat stress will the body stray outside its normal core temperature range of 36.1C-37.8C (Weller, 2005). Mechanisms that maintain normothermic core body conditions consist of processes that either dissipate (to counteract hyperthermia) or generate (to counteract hypothermia) heat in response to internal or external thermal stimuli (Charkoudian, 2003). The consequences of having a core temperature outside of this narrow range without compensation via thermoregulatory mechanisms can result in heat-related illness, injury, or death.
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This portion of the central nervous system acts much like a thermostat in that it receives afferent input from central & peripheral thermoreceptors, integrates the afferent signal, & generates an efferent signal in response to the information (Boulant, 2000). The POAH produces & coordinates several physiological & behavioural responses to heat imbalance. However, the process by which heat is mechanically dissipated remains enigmatic. While the complete mechanism is still unclear, current understanding suggests a classic feedback loop where temperature deviates from a steady-state, & as a result physiological mechanisms return the temperature to its

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