Sunday, May 1, 2011

Objective 68 & 70: Chemical buffer system

Objective 68: Recognize how chemical buffers interact to protect the body against lethal changes of pH
Objective 70: Recognize how the lungs and kidneys interact to protect the body against lethal changes of pH

Wow, if only you know how long it actually took me to figure this objective out. I put it off as long as I could because I try to stay as far away from anything remotely chemistry related as possible. I finally decided to be brave and take a stab at it, and I realized that the lecture outline and textbook gave some quite handy information on the chemical buffer system. Mind you, this topic is still very confusing for me. Still, the lecture outline and book helped me a great deal in trying to sort this information out in my head. Are you ready? Here's what I learned from the textbooks information.

Our body chemical buffer is a system of one or more compounds that act to resist changes in pH when a strong acid or base is added. They do this by either binding to hydrogen whenever the pH drops or releasing hydrogen whenever the pH rises. The chemical buffer system is composed of bicarbonate, phosphate, and protein buffer systems. These buffer systems are so closely related which allows any drifts in pH to be resisted by the entire buffer system. The bicarbonate buffer system buffers both ICF and ECF, but it is the only important ECF buffer. The phosphate buffer system is a very effecient buffer in urine and in ICF. Proteins in plasma and cells are the body's most powerful source of buffers.

The kidneys and lungs play an important part in protecting the body against lethal changes of pH as well. Chemical buffers cannot remove excess acids or bases from the body, and thats where the kidneys and lungs come into play. I kind of see them as the football players on the bench waiting for their turn to get into the game. Kidneys adjust bicarbonates, eliminate fixed metabolic acids (phosphoric, uric, lactic acids, and ketones), and prevent metabolic acidosis. The lungs eliminate carbonic acid by expelling carbon dioxide. It is amazing how different systems of our body work together to maintain homeostasis.

I know I'm teaching the topic again to you it seems, but being able to write out a summary of how the chemical buffer system is important really does help me grasp the information better. I guess since i'm writing it out, it's sticks easier to my brain.

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