Blood Plasma

Blood plasma is a watery fluid in the blood, comprising roughly 50 per cent of the blood's total volume. In fact, by itself plasma is approximately 90 per cent water, while the remaining constituents include minerals, proteins, hormones, clotting factors, immunoglobins and waste materials. Absence of plasma would have actually deprived the blood cells of a medium to flow through the vessels located in all areas of the body. In addition, plasma also has several other vital utilities in our body.

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Blood plasma can be easily separated from the blood and this can be done by drawing blood from a patient and subsequently pass it through a centrifuge. While the blood rolls, the blood cells that are comparatively heavy settle down at the bottom, while the plasma goes up to the top. Generally, plasma is straw hued, but the color may also vary - sometimes grayish or cloudy, subject to the diet and health of the patient from whom blood sample has been drawn. In fact, the plasma may be examined further to determine the health of the patient. Even, an analysis of the blood cells can be undertaken for additional information regarding the donor's health.

While plasma flows through our body, it works in a way similar to that of a milkman who delivers milk at different homes. Plasma delivers a variety of substances to the body's cells and, at the same time, gathers the waste materials from the cells for processing. The flow of blood plasma is steady, while its constituents are renewed continuously. Besides, supplying the cells with nourishments and cleaning up waste materials, blood plasma also accommodates the cells of our immune system that fight against infections in our body. The blood plasma is also utilized to supply hormones as well as blood clotting factors to body areas depending on their requirements.

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There are times when physicians make use of plasma infusions for treating a range of health conditions. Unadulterated plasma encloses blood clotting factors that help in enhancing the pace of forming blood clots, which makes plasma useful during surgeries and also in treating hemophilia. When frozen, it is possible to keep plasma viable for a maximum of 10 years - this makes plasma a very steady blood product. In addition, a new technique has been developed for storing plasma, especially for military use - it is possible to package plasma in dried form that can be reconstructed for use later. For treating hemophilia, plasma is packaged together with blood clotting factors obtained from several hundred, sometimes even several thousand, donors and it is employed to make up for the absence of clotting factors in hemophiliacs.

A medical process known as plasmapheresis involves drawing out plasma from the blood, treating it and finally returning it to the patient's body with a view to cure specific health conditions. In addition, this process may also be employed for donating plasma, enabling the donors to donate only plasma with no blood cells. As the demand for plasma is regularly high, donating plasma is a wonderful donation decision for individuals who desired to give blood products to other people who might be requiring them most. Compared to the normal blood donation, the process involved in donating plasma is somewhat longer. However, blood plasma has the aptitude to replenish itself in just 48 hours, which helps the donor to make a speedy recovery.

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Functions of blood plasma

Plasma has several vital functions in our body and carrying nutriments all over the body is among its most important roles. When the ingested food is absorbed by the body from the stomach as well as the intestines, it is metabolized into its simpler constituents, which comprise lipids or fats, amino acids (protein building blocks), fatty acids and sugar or glucose. Subsequently, these nutriments are dispensed to different parts of our body, especially the parts that make use of them to sustain its robust functioning as well as development or growth.

Besides carrying nutriments all over the body, the plasma also collects the waste products from the cells and carries them to our kidneys. These waste products include substances like creatinine, uric acid and a number of ammonium salts. Subsequently, the kidneys strain these waste materials from the plasma and get rid of them from the body by means of urine.

The plasma also encloses substances dissolved in it. Majority of these dissolved substances are of great use and are transported to various parts of our body, where these substances are used or stored for later use. Precisely speaking, these substances which are digested in the stomach and intestines include amino acids, vitamins, glucose and mineral salts are transported from the ileum or the small intestine to various organs. Glucose is stored either in the muscles or the liver in the form of glycogen or used up by the issues for respiration. On the other hand, all the tissues use amino acids for repairing themselves as well as growth. The liver has the aptitude to get the blood plasma rid of surplus amino acids, while adding a number of them that are required. Excessive amino acids generate nitrogen that is transformed into urea, a damaging substance, and excreted from the body.

The plasma transports vitamins from the small intestine (ileum) to various areas of the body. These vitamins aid in sustaining the health of our tissues. Blood plasma also absorbs minerals from the ileum and transport them throughout the body. In fact, different areas of our body require different minerals for dissimilar purposes. We are all aware that calcium is necessary for the health of our bones and teeth. In addition, the muscles also require this mineral, as its ions are concerned in chemical systems that result in the contraction of the muscles. Therefore, if your diet does not contain sufficient amount of calcium, it would not be possible for the muscles to contract appropriately.

The thyroid gland located in our neck requires iodine to produce a hormone known as thyroxine. The hormone regulates the rate at which our body functions. Precisely speaking, thyroxine has an influence on the rate at which our tissues respire. The endocrine glands secrete the hormones and the plasma transports them to the required areas of the body. The endocrine glands known as the 'islets of Langerhans', which are basically small cell cluster located in the pancreas - secrete insulin. The liver is the primary target where insulin is supplied. Insulin works to encourage the liver to transform surplus glucose present in the bloodstream into glycogen. In addition, insulin is also vital for the respiration of the tissues.

Protein comprises roughly seven per cent of the plasma. Albumin is a protein whose concentration is the maximum in the plasma. Albumin is vital for the growth as well as repair of the tissues. Such elevated levels of albumin are necessary to sustain the blood's osmotic pressure.

In addition to the plasma, the fluids surrounding the cells or the interstitial fluid also encloses albumin. However, compared to albumin's concentration in the plasma, its level is low in the interstitial fluid. This is one reason why water does not possess the aptitude to leave the interstitial fluid and pass into the blood. In case the concentration of albumin was not so high in the plasma, it would be possible for water to get into the blood, augmenting the volume of blood and resulting in elevated blood pressure, which would eventually increase the burden on the heart.

The plasma also transports electrolytes or salts all over the body. These salts usually comprise calcium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, potassium as well as bicarbonate - all of which are vital for the normal functioning of the body. In the absence of these salts the muscles would lose their ability to contract, while the nerves would fail to transmit signals to as well as from the brain.

Apart from albumin, the plasma also transports various other proteins to the different parts of our body. Immunoglobulins - also called antibodies, are basically proteins that combat alien organisms that invade our body, for instance, bacteria. Fibrinogen is another vital protein that is essential for helping the platelets (a type of cells present in the blood) in blood clot formation. As the plasma transports these proteins to the different parts of the body, it has a vital role in protecting the body against blood loss as well as infections.


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