Hypertonic Definition

In biology, hypertonic refers to muscles that are more toned, or have greater tension, than other muscles in a body or are more toned than a “normal” comparison model.

On the cellular and chemical levels, hypertonic fluids have a greater osmotic pressure than other fluids, and hypertonic solutions have a higher solution concentration than another, more diluted solution.

Examples of Hypertonic

Example #1: Weightlifting

Weight loss is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. However, most people also take up strength training to achieve their goals. Weightlifting is one of the most popular strength training methods, because it typically requires only a quality set of weights, or a basic gym membership.

When people start weightlifting, they tend to focus on one set of muscles, like the biceps or the triceps. Weightlifters build their muscles by lifting progressively heavier weights, moving up in increments until they reach a desired level of strength. Usually, this desired level is far stronger than what science considers normal for an untrained person at the weightlifter’s weight and height.

When weightlifters become stronger than they were, or stronger than what is statistically normal, their muscles become hypertonic, or more toned, in comparison to the “normal” model.

Example #2: Diabetes

Blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, is a type of solution that varies in concentration from person to person. In non-diabetics, this concentration averages between 90 and 130 milligrams (mg) of glucose per deciliter (dL) of blood. Of course, these averages can be lower or higher when hungry, or after a big meal.

Non-diabetic bodies produce a chemical called insulin to lower high blood sugar, and a substance called glucagon to elevate low blood sugar. Because of these two substances, daily changes in blood sugar concentration rarely produce any serious health effects.

People with diabetes, unfortunately, have trouble producing insulin. Therefore, they are at higher risk of having blood sugar concentrations beyond the healthy limit of 180 mg/dL. When the blood glucose concentration of a person with diabetes goes above the “normal” blood glucose concentration range, it is said to be hypertonic to the blood sugar of non-diabetics.

Example #3: Filtration in the Kidneys

Basic biology tells us hydration is essential to body function. The kidneys, in particular, depend on hydration to effectively remove excess minerals and waste, which mix with liquids to form a solution, from the body.

Under normal conditions, liquids move through the kidneys, which filter excess minerals and waste. These excess materials depend on liquids to both move through and exit the body. In fact, without water (or another non-diuretic beverage) to propel them through the bladder and out the urethra, these solutes build up in the kidneys to cause kidney stones or, in extreme cases, kidney failure.

When the excess minerals and waste in the kidney is greater than the amount of liquid, the solution in the interior of the kidneys is said to be hypertonic to the solution of unfiltered liquids passing through. Because there are not enough liquids to move them out of the body, excess minerals and waste build up, and can form stones. If these stones go untreated, they can congest the kidneys, for lack of a better term, and lead to kidney failure.

Related Biology Terms

  • Solute – The compound dissolved in a solution.
  • Solution – A liquid mixture in which a solid component is completely dissolved in a liquid component.

Quiz

1. Kidneys that contain more minerals and waste than liquid are said to be ________ to normal kidneys, because they ______________.
A. Hypertonic, have a greater concentration of solute than normal kidneys.
B. Hypotonic, have a greater concentration of solute than normal kidneys.
C. Hypnotic, have a greater concentration of solute than normal kidneys.
D. Supersonic, have a greater concentration of solute than normal kidneys.

Answer to Question #1

2. Muscles that are ________ than normal muscles are hypertonic to normal muscles.
A. Longer
B. Shorter
C. More toned
D. Less toned

Answer to Question #2

3. The blood glucose of people with diabetes often becomes hypertonic to the blood glucose of people without diabetes because ____________.
A. People with diabetes produce more insulin than people without diabetes.
B. People with diabetes produce less insulin than people without diabetes.
C. People with diabetes eat more sugar than people without diabetes.
D. People with diabetes are naturally more sweet than people without diabetes.

Answer to Question #3
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