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What is peripheral Nervous System and Its Functions

The nervous system is central to the proper and normal functioning of the human body. This system is responsible for all the activities and movements that take place in the body. It is divided into the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system (CNS). The peripheral nervous system (PNS)includes all nerves which branch from the spinal cord and brain and extend to different parts of the body such as organs and muscles whereas the CNS consists of the spinal cord and brain. The nervous system executes critical roles crucial to ensuring smooth communication in the body.

The Peripheral Nervous System

The peripheral system is the part of the nervous system which connects the central nervous system to the skin, limbs and the organs. Nerves from the central nervous system extend to those organs of the body. They relay information or messages which triggers body organs to execute their intended functions or respond to environmental stimuli.

This part of the nervous system contains 21 pairs of spinal nerves and 12 pairs of cranial nerves. A section of those nerves is mainly sensory cells which carry information to the central nervous. They conduct activities such as detecting vision and smell. Besides, there are motor cells which relay information from the CNS to the glands, internal organs and muscles. They are found in areas such as the eyeballs. Last but not least, there are those nerve cells which contain not only motor cells but also sensory cells. Such cells carry out activities such as swallowing and tasting.

All cells travel through the spinal cord before splitting into the anterior sensory root and posterior sensory root.

Functions of The Peripheral Nervous System

Peripheral nervous system

The primary purpose of the peripheral nervous system is connecting the central nervous system to the skin, limbs and organs. To understand the functions of the peripheral nervous system, it is essential to know the different parts it is divided into. Those parts play very different but vital roles allowing the peripheral nervous system to operate as intended. They include:

  • The autonomic nervous system

  • The somatic nervous system

The Autonomic Nervous System

This part of the peripheral nervous system primarily deals with controlling involuntary body functions like breathing, digestion, blood flow and heartbeat. The autonomic nervous system initiates these functions without any need for invoking your conscious. The system is divided into:

  • The Sympathetic system starts what is referred to as the fight or flight response. It works through several interconnected neurons. They disburse energy and determines how organs respond to possible environmental threats. For instance, it triggers response to stimuli by increasing breathing rate, dilating the pupils, initiating sweating, increasing blood flow and heartbeat rate. As a result, you can react with immediate effect while faced with potential threats. You will respond to the threat by either staying and fighting or running away to avoid the impending danger.

  • The Parasympathetic System. This part of the peripheral nervous systems concentrates of controlling the usual body functions besides conserving physical resources. Under potential threats, the parasympathetic system will constrict the pupils, minimize blood flowing to the muscles, slow breathing and the heartbeat. Your body will be able to get back the usual resting condition.

The Somatic Nervous System

This system transport both sensory and motor messages to and from the CNS alongside triggering voluntary movement. It manages voluntary muscular changes in skeletal muscles found in the face, neck, shoulders, limbs and back. Besides, the somatic nervous system invokes reflex actions where afferent nerve fibers are linked to motor nerve fibers, to initiate stimuli responses. Such protective responses include moving your body parts from extreme temperatures and acute injurious stimuli. It is made up of:

  • Sensory neurons (afferent neurons)-These neurons are specifically for transmitting messages from the nerves to the CNS (central nervous system). They allow human beings to transport sensory signals to not only the brain but also the spinal cord.

  • Motor neurons (efferent neurons)-take messages from the brain and spinal cord and sends them to muscle fibers in the body. They are the ones responsible for physical action while responding to environmental stimuli.

Effect on mental health

The nervous system is an essential aspect of the brain. It controls feeling, thinking, reasoning, smell, taste, and sight. It is not only responsible for voluntary but also involuntary functions. It is made up of the central nervous and peripheral nervous systems, which enables it to carry out all those functions. 

The proper functioning of your nervous system relies on your mental health. Injuries and mental disorders can adversely ruin your nervous system. The mental disorders which can easily jeopardize your nervous system include Peripheral neuropathies, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Once the nervous system is tampered with, it leads to a series of conditions such as loss of speech, unsteadiness, severe headache, double vision, total loss of vision, numbness, dimness, confusion, and severe nausea.

Importance of Peripheral Nervous System

The peripheral nerves system is a critical aspect of the central nervous system. It links the brain and spinal cord to the brain hence fostering the smooth exchange of information. This system is key to the proper initiation of both voluntary and involuntary movements in the body. It is divided into the autonomic nervous system and the somatic nervous system. 

The somatic nervous system deals with the voluntary movement that takes place in the neck, face, shoulders, limbs and back. It invokes reflex actions that are crucial in ensuring proper protective responses to the environmental stimuli. The autonomic nervous system controls the involuntary movement explicitly in the smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, glands and body organs. This part of the peripheral nervous system is divided into sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

The peripheral nervous system can encounter certain disorders collectively referred to as peripheral neuropathy. The complications jeopardize the ability of nerves to relay messages from the brain and spinal cord to muscles and body care. Whenever you are faced with these disorders, you must seek medical attention quickly to restore the peripheral nervous system to normalcy. 

Bottom Line

It is essential to make sure you have proper mental health for the better functioning of your nervous system. Check out on any symptoms of mental disorders to seek immediate medical attention. Failure to do so you will develop serious complications which will excessively destroy your nervous system.

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