The concept of concentration, or osmolarity, is an important one in understanding biologic systems. The human body tries works maintain a specific concentration of dissolved molecules (electrolytes, sugars, amino acids, etc.) in the fluid bathing the cells (and in the fluid part of the blood or plasma). Adding the total number of molecules (size is not significant, number of individual molecules is) and expressing that number relative to the volume of fluid being analyzed, one gets the osmolarity. The higher the osmolarity, the more concentrated the solution, and the higher its osmotic activity

Their are several ways that the body attempts to protect the osmolarity of the extracellular fluid compartment.

The body will also avoid rapidly absorbing too many particles (high osmolarity fluids) and upsetting the concentration balance in the body (homeostasis) by slowing down emptying of the stomach if high concentration fluids are ingested. This allows the kidneys time to adjust and thus wide swings in the concentration of body fluids.


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