Health

Expert Reveals 4 bodily functions you must not hold back

Body functions are the physiological or psychological functions of body systems. The body’s functions are ultimately its cells’ functions. Survival is the body’s most important business. Survival depends on the body’s maintaining or restoring homeostasis, a state of relative constancy, of its internal environment.

More than a century ago, French physiologist, Claude Bernard (1813-1878), made a remarkable observation. He noted that body cells survived in a healthy condition only when the temperature, pressure, and chemical composition of their environment remained relatively constant. Later, an American physiologist, Walter B. Cannon (1871-1945), suggested the name homeostasis for the relatively constant states maintained by the body. Homeostasis is a key word in modern physiology. It comes from two Greek words – “homeo,” meaning the same, and “stasis,” meaning standing. “Standing or staying the same” then is the literal meaning of homeostasis. However, as Cannon emphasized, homeostasis does not mean something set and immobile that stays exactly the same all the time. In his words, homeostasis “means a condition that may vary, but which is relatively constant.”

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Homeostasis depends on the body’s ceaselessly carrying on many activities. Its major activities or functions are responding to changes in the body’s environment, exchanging materials between the environment and cells, metabolizing foods, and integrating all of the body’s diverse activities.

The body’s ability to perform many of its functions changes gradually over the years. In general, the body performs its functions least well at both ends of life – in infancy and in old age. During childhood, body functions gradually become more and more efficient and effective. During late maturity and old age the opposite is true. They gradually become less and less efficient and effective. During young adulthood, they normally operate with maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

Whether it was from the taco before the business presentation or the extra-large beer while watching the big game, everyone has had a time when they tried to hold back a bodily function—for their sake or for everyone around them.

While some bodily functions like sneezing can be disruptive, others like gas can be downright embarrassing. Depending on the circumstances, letting it out may even be rude.

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“We’re all guilty of holding back bodily functions to be polite,” said Susan A. Werner, M.D., a Geisinger family medicine provider. “What you may not realize, however, is that it can have negative effects on your health. Bodily functions are supposed to be let out, and holding them in can cause infections or serious health issues.”

Below are 4 bodily functions you must not hold back:

1. Urine

While you can sneeze anywhere you want, it’s not so easy when you have to urinate. Holding your urine is sometimes necessary, but if you find yourself doing a dance, it’s time to make a pit stop.

As liquid waste builds up in your body, you get the urge to urinate. It’s not harmful to hold it for a few minutes until you get to the bathroom, but if you wait too long, the effects can be unpleasant and even dangerous.

Holding your urine for too long can weaken the bladder muscles over time. This can lead to problems such as incontinence and not being able to fully empty your bladder.

Holding your urine for extremely long periods of time can also cause urinary tract infections due to bacteria build-up. In addition, it can increase your risk of kidney disease and in rare cases even risk your bladder bursting—a condition that can be deadly.

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2. Sneezes

For most people, sneezes are far from subtle—which is understandable since you’re expelling air at around 40 miles per hour.

People hold in sneezes to avoid being disruptive, but the effects of holding in a sneeze might be more than you bargained for.

“There are cases of people rupturing their throats after holding in a sneeze,” said Dr. Werner. “The force is enough to break through your windpipe and push the air through the soft tissue in your neck. In these cases, it may be necessary to stay at the hospital for a week to heal completely.”

While this is a rare event, it does still happen. Luckily, it’s completely avoidable if you let the sneeze out.

Just be sure to sneeze into a tissue or your elbow (for everyone’s sake).

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3. Bowel Movements

There are plenty of reasons to hold back a bowel movement. For most people, it’s not just a matter of finding a bathroom; it’s about finding the right bathroom and some peace and quiet.

As a result, some people may hold their bowel movements for too long.

“Don’t hold back bowel movements,” said Dr. Werner. “The longer you wait the more water your body removes from the waste. Eventually, this can lead to constipation and impactions, which may require laxatives or even surgery to remove.”

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4. Gas

Belches and flatulence are embarrassing, especially when they happen in the public. And because gas can smell or make a noise, most people try to hold it in until they find a secluded place.

Luckily, holding gas does not have serious or harmful side effects. However, it can cause bloating and discomfort.

“Interestingly, some early studies show that holding gas can lead to bad breath, too,” said Dr. Werner. “When you hold gas in, the bubbles can break down and go elsewhere throughout the body—which in some cases can end up making your breath smell.”

Credit: Geisinger.org

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