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Heat Gain and Heat Loss

Human Biology (Year 12) - Maintaining Temperature Balance

Ben Whitten

What is heat gain and heat loss?

In order to maintain a constant body temperature, we must balance heat production with heat loss.

  • If we are getting too cold, we must reduce heat loss whilst increasing heat production by increasing our level of activity or metabolism

  • If we get too hot the reverse must occur – decrease heat production by decreasing metabolism and increasing heat loss

Heat gain must be equal to heat loss.

The inputs and outputs of heat are as follows;

Heat inputs

  • Heat from body processes (metabolism), in particular respiration of the liver and muscle cells

  • Heat gained from surroundings by conduction and radiation

Heat outputs

  • Radiation, conduction and convection to surroundings

  • Evaporation of water from skin and lungs; warm air breathed out, warm urine and faeces

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