The human body has an autonomic nervous system. It is responsible in controlling body processes such as blood circulation, heartbeat, urination, digestion, and more.
The name autonomic nervous system is due to autonomously working function. It works without human conscious effort.
The key role of the autonomic nervous system is to enhance homeostasis. It is further grouped into sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
So, what is the main difference between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems? The former prepares the body to respond to fight and flight while the latter prepares the body to respond to rest and digest.
This article provides further differences between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in a tabular form. Take the time to study the table and get to more about their similarities.
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Comparison Table( Sympathetic Vs Parasympathetic Nervous System)
|Basic Terms||Sympathetic Nervous System||Parasympathetic Nervous System|
|Meaning||Prepare the body to respond to fight and flight||Prepare the body to respond to rest and digest|
|Origin||The lumbar and thoracic region of the spinal cord||Sacral region of spinal cord, medulla, and cranial nerves|
|Role||Control body response during perceive dangers or threats||Control the body response at rest|
|Activated Responses||Fight and flight||Rest and digest|
|Body Response||Speed up heart rate and general body tense||Restore the body to a state of calmness|
|Skeletal Muscle System||Muscle contract||Muscle relax|
|Pulmonary System||Bronchial tubes Dilate||Bronchial tubes Constrict|
|G.I||Decreases stomach movement and secretions||Increases stomach movement and secretions|
|Effect on Blood Flow||Increases||Decreases|
|Time of dormancy||During dangers||At rest|
|Effect on rectum||Contract||Relax|
|Urinary output effect||Decreases||Increases|
|Rate of conversion of glycogen to glucose||Increases conversion of glycogen to glucose for muscle contraction||No action|
|Adrenal Gland||Releases adrenaline||No release of adrenaline|
|Salivary Glands||Decreases saliva production||Increases saliva production|
|Neurotransmitters||Are adrenergic such as epinephrine.||Are cholinergic such as acetylcholine.|
What is the Sympathetic Nervous System?
The sympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system that tends to prepare the body in advance for stresses such as threats and injuries.
The nervous system makes the heart rate increase and muscles contract. The nervous system originates from the spinal cord specifically the lumbar and thoracic region.
In general terms, the autonomic nervous system help to perceive how the body will react to impending danger.
What is the Parasympathetic Nervous System?
The parasympathetic nervous system is another part of the autonomic system that helps to control the various functions of the body at rest.
The nervous system normally causes the muscles to relax and the heart rate to decrease. Besides that, it helps to maintain homeostasis in the body.
According to research, the autonomic nervous system originates from the spinal cord and the medulla. All in all, it helps to maintain the rest and digest function of the body.
Differences between Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous System
- The sympathetic nervous system has small preganglionic nerve fiber while parasympathetic have larger ones.
- The sympathetic nervous system causes the pupil to dilate while the parasympathetic nervous system causes the pupil to constrict.
- The sympathetic nervous system increases saliva production while the parasympathetic causes a decrease in saliva production.
- The parasympathetic nervous system causes the anal sphincter to relax while the sympathetic nervous system causes the anal sphincter to contract.
- Urinary bladder during the sympathetic nervous system tends to relax while parasympathetic make them contract.
- The parasympathetic nervous system stimulates gut peristalsis while the sympathetic nervous system inhibits gut peristalsis.
- The sympathetic nervous system tends to increase heart rate while the parasympathetic nervous system decreases heart rate.
Similarities between Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous System
- Both are the autonomous nervous system
- Both originated from the spinal cord
- Both have an influence on the body physiological process
- Both play a significant role in the homeostasis of the body
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is Sympathetic or Parasympathetic Faster?
The parasympathetic nervous system has a quicker ability to respond to change than the sympathetic nervous system.
- Can the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Work at the Same Time?
The parasympathetic and sympathetic systems do not work entirely separately, but rather work at the same time, often in opposition to one another.
- Is Sweating Parasympathetic or Sympathetic?
The sympathetic nervous system normally controls facial sweating. But there are instances where parasympathetic reflexes provoke pathological sweating.
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The body reflects action is controlled by the autonomous nervous system. The ANS comprises both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. These two systems play a significant role in the internal body organs such as the stomach, intestines, and heart.
More Sources and References
- Autonomic Nervous System. Wikipedia
- Physiology of the Autonomic Nervous System. NCBI
- Your Parasympathetic Nervous System Explained. Healthline