12 Systems of the Body: A Medical Assistant’s Guide

Are you interested in learning more about how to obtain a diploma in a Medical Assistant program? Part of what you will learn during your Medical Assistant training are different terminology for anatomy and physiology. As a medical assistant student, you will become familiar with body systems and disorders and diseases common to those different body systems. So, how many body systems are there?

How Many Body Systems Are There?

The body has many different systems that the medical assistant should become familiar with for charting, medical recordkeeping, and patient education. These different body systems include the skeletal, nervous, muscular, respiratory, endocrine, immune, cardiovascular/circulatory, urinary, integumentary, reproductive, and digestive systems.

Body System #1: Skeletal System

The skeletal system is the framework of the body that is held together by tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. The skeleton helps humans move and is involved in the production of blood cells and the storage of calcium.

Diseases and Disorders of the Skeletal System
  • Osteoporosis – This disorder is prevalent in the elderly. The bone loses calcium and becomes thinner, resulting in the loss of bone tissue in the body.

Body System #2: Nervous System

The nervous system is a network of nerve cells and fibers that transmit nerve impulses throughout the body. This body system is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Nerves are cylindrical bundles of fibers that start in the brain and central spinal cord and branch out to different part of the body.

Diseases and Disorders of the Nervous System
  • Epilepsy – This disorder results in abnormal electrical discharges from brain cells causing seizures.
  • Parkinson’s Disease – Parkinson’s is a progressive nerve disease that affects movement.
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – With MS, the protective lining of the nerves is attacked by the body’s immune system.
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS is a motor neuron disease which weakens the muscles and progressively affects physical function.
  • Huntington’s Disease – This is an inherited condition that causes the nerve cells in the brain to degenerate.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease – This disorder impacts mental functions and memory.

Body System #3: Muscular System

The muscular system aids in movement, blood flow, and other bodily functions. The muscular system is made of three different types of muscles. (1) Skeletal muscles are connected to bone and aid in voluntary movement. (2) Smooth muscles are found inside organs and help to move substances through organs. (3) Cardiac muscles are found in the heart and help pump blood.

Diseases and Disorders of the Muscular System
  • Polymyositis – Polymyositis results in inflammation and progressive weakening of the skeletal muscles in the body.

Body System #4: Respiratory System

The respiratory system brings in oxygen and expels carbon dioxide. This system is made up of the airway, the lungs, and the different muscles of respiration.

Diseases and Disorders of the Respiratory System
  • Influenza – The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, or lungs.
  • Pneumonia – Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs.
  • Asthma – This results in constriction of the lung’s airways causing coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – COPD is a progressive disease that makes it increasingly difficult for a person to breath.
  • Covid-19 – also known as coronavirus, that attacks the lungs and causes upper-respiratory tract illness.

Body System #5: Endocrine System

The endocrine system is a collection of glands that secrete hormones into the circulatory system to be delivered to the body’s vital organs. This system regulates metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood.

Diseases and Disorders of the Endocrine System
  • Diabetes – This condition affects the body whereby it does not properly process glucose due to a lack of insulin or the body’s inability to produce enough insulin.
  • Hypoglycemia – Low blood sugar occurs when blood glucose drops below normal levels.
  • Hypothyroidism – Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone to meet the body’s needs.

Body System #6: Immune System

The immune system is the body’s defense against bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. This body system includes lymph nodes, the spleen, bone marrow, lymphocytes, the thymus gland, and leukocytes.

Diseases and Disorders of the Immune System
  • Allergic Rhinitis – This diagnosis results in an allergic response causing itchy, watery eyes and sneezing.
  • Lupus – Lupus is an inflammatory disease caused by the immune system’s attacking its own tissue.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – RA is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting the body’s joints, most commonly in the hands and feet.

Body System #7/8: Cardiovascular/Circulatory System

The circulatory system permits blood to circulate and transport nutrients, oxygen, carbon dioxide, hormones, and blood cells. It also helps fight disease, stabilize temperature and pH, and maintain homeostasis.

Diseases and Disorders of the Circulatory System
  • Cardiovascular Disease – This disease comprises heart conditions that include diseased vessels, structural problems, and blood clots.
  • Arteriosclerosis – Fatty deposits in the arteries cause the walls to stiffen and thicken which can restrict blood flow in the body.
  • Stroke – A stroke is characterized by a blockage of the blood vessels to the brain.
  • Hypertension – Hypertension is high blood pressure that causes the heart to work harder.
  • Aortic Aneurysm – This is a condition in which the aorta is damaged and starts to bulge or tear causing severe internal bleeding.
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) – PAD is the narrowing or blockage of an artery.
  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) – With CVI, sections of the superficial veins of the lower extremities reflux.

Body System #9: Urinary System

The urinary system helps eliminate waste products from the body. This body system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, sphincter muscles, and urethra.

Diseases and Disorders of the Urinary System
  • Kidney Disease – This is a disease of the kidneys where they are damaged and can’t filter blood properly. Kidney disease can cause waste to build up in the body, leading to sepsis in the body.
  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) – A UTI occurs when bacteria enters the urinary tract and affects the processes of the urethra, bladder, or kidneys.
  • Interstitial Cystitis (IC) – IC is a chronic bladder condition that causes bladder pressure and pain.
  • Prostatitis – Prostatitis is swelling of the prostate gland, often caused by advanced age.
  • Kidney Stones – These are stones found in the urinary tract.

Body System #10: Integumentary System

The integumentary system is an organ system that protects the body from damage, loss of water, or abrasion from outside. This body system includes human skin, hair, and nails.

Diseases and Disorders of the Integumentary System
  • Acne – Acne is a disorder of the hair and oil glands presenting itself as red bumps on the face, chest, and/or back.
  • Warts – Warts are bumps caused by a viral infection most commonly on the hands and feet.
  • Eczema – This is a condition that presents as red, itchy, flaky skin.
  • Vitiligo – With this condition, there is a loss of skin color that appears in blotches.
  • Psoriasis – This inflammatory skin condition presents as red, itchy plaques that occur most commonly on the knees and elbows.
  • Melanocytic Nevus – This is a usually noncancerous disorder of pigment-producing skin cells commonly called a birth mark or mole.
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma – With this type of cancer, the skin has a slight pearl color which rarely spreads to other parts of the body but must be treated.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma – This skin cancer shows as a rough-surfaced skin-colored lesion, which causes death in about 10 percent of affected patients.
  • Melanoma – Melanoma is a skin cancer presenting as a dark, changing, bleeding skin spot which can be fatal in 35 percent of patients diagnosed.

Body System #11: Reproductive System

The reproductive system is a combination of bodily organs and tissues used in the process of producing offspring.

Diseases and Disorders of the Reproductive System
  • Cervical Cancer – Cervical cancer results in a malignant tumor of the cervix.
  • Prostate Cancer – This type of cancer occurs in a man’s prostate, a small sized gland that produces seminal fluid.
  • Vaginal Yeast Infection – This is an infection caused by a yeast fungus in the vagina.
  • Endometriosis – Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that normally lines the uterus ends up outside the uterus.
  • Gonorrhea – Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that may cause infertility if left untreated.
  • Erectile Dysfunction – This occurs when a man can’t keep or get an erection during sexual intercourse.

Body System #12: Digestive System

The digestive system breaks down food, extracts nutrients into the bloodstream, and excretes waste. This body system is made up of the digestive tract, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.

Diseases and Disorders of the Digestive System
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome – IBS is an intestinal disorder causing pain in the stomach, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Diverticulitis – Diverticulitis is an inflammation of one or more small pouches in the digestive tract.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease – GERD is a condition in which stomach acid irritates the esophagus.
  • Crohn’s Disease – This is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract.

Does learning about the anatomy and physiology of different body systems interest you? Are you ready for a rewarding career as a medical assistant? The Medical Assistant program at Hunter Business School prepares competent, entry-level medical assistants in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains required for professional practice.

Contact us today to find out more about how to become a medical assistant on Long Island.