Difference Between Sympathetic And Parasympathetic

The Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system is the control system that certain body processes, such as circulation of blood, digestion, breathing, urination beat, etc. This nervous system is named as the autonomic nervous system, because it works automatically or autonomously, without a person’s conscious effort.

The main function of the autonomic nervous system is homeostasis. Apart from maintaining the body’s internal environment, it is also involved in controlling and maintaining the following life processes:

  • Digestion
  • Metabolism
  • Urination
  • Defecation
  • Blood pressure
  • Sexual response
  • Body temperature
  • Heart and breathing rates
  • Production of body fluids
  • Balancing the level of water and other electrolytes

An autonomic nervous system comprises of two nerve cells –

  1. Sympathetic autonomic nervous system  and
  2. Parasympathetic autonomic nervous system

Sympathetic And Parasympathetic

Sympathetic Autonomic Nervous System: It is the part of the autonomic nervous system, located in the spinal cord, near the regions of thoracic and lumber. It is primarily involved in preparing the body to fight and react to danger, stress, strain or trauma by contracting the muscles and by increasing the heart rate.

Parasympathetic Autonomic Nervous System: It is the part of the autonomic nervous system, located in between the spinal cord and the medulla. It is primarily involved in the maintenance of the body’s systems, by relaxing the contraction of the muscles and decreasing the heart rate.

Also, read more about the Human Nervous System

Here in this article let us know about the differences between the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous system along with their functions.

Difference between Sympathetic And Parasympathetic nervous system

The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for the “Fight or Flight” response during any potential danger. On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system inhibits the body from overworking and restores the body to a calm and composed state. The difference between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system are differentiated based on the way the body responds to environmental stimuli.

Difference Between Sympathetic And Parasympathetic

The major difference between Sympathetic And Parasympathetic nervous system are summarized below:

Sympathetic Parasympathetic
 Involved in preparing the body to fight or flight response.  Involved in maintaining homeostasis and also, permits the rest and digest response.
 The sympathetic system prepares the body for any potential danger.  The parasympathetic system aims to bring the body to a state of calm.
 Sympathetic system has shorter neuron pathways, hence a faster response time.  Has comparatively longer neuron pathways, hence a slower response time.
 Increases heartbeat, muscles tense up.  Reduces heartbeat, muscles relaxes.
 The pupil dilates to let in more light.  The pupil contracts.
 Saliva secretion is inhibited.  Saliva secretion increases, digestion increases.
 On “fight and flight” situations, Adrenaline is released by the adrenal glands, more glycogen is converted to glucose.  No such function in “fight or flight” situations.

Conclusion

The autonomic nervous system comprises of two parts- the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system activates the fight or flight response during a threat or perceived danger and the parasympathetic nervous system restores the body to a state of calm.

Difference Between Sympathetic And Parasympathetic

Learn more about the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous system, its differences and other related topics @ BYJU’S Biology

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