Posted October 4, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 2 min read
Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone. It plays an important role in your body’s `fight-or-flight` response. It’s also used as a medication to treat many life-threatening conditions.
What is Epinephrine?
Epinephrine, also called adrenaline, is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter.
As a hormone, it’s made and released by your adrenal glands, which are hat-shaped glands that sit on top of each kidney.
As a central nervous system neurotransmitter, it’s a chemical messenger that helps transmit nerve signals across nerve endings to another nerve cell, muscle cell or gland cell.
Epinephrine is part of your sympathetic nervous system, which is part of your body’s emergency response system to danger, the
Medically, the flight-or-flight response is known as the acute stress response.
What does epinephrine do in the body?
As a neurotransmitter, epinephrine plays a small role.
Only a small amount is produced in your nerves.
It plays a role in metabolism, attention, focus, panic and excitement.
Abnormal levels are linked to sleep disorders, anxiety, hypertension and lowered immunity.
Epinephrine’s major action is in its role as a hormone.
Epinephrine is released by your adrenal glands in response to stress.
This reaction causes a number of changes in your body and is known as the fight-or-flight response.
How is epinephrine used as a medication?
When used as a medication, synthetic epinephrine is used to treat:
Cardiac arrest/cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): Epinephrine stimulates your heart.
Eye surgery: Epinephrine helps keep your pupils dilated.
Septic shock: Epinephrine increases your blood pressure.
Asthma: Epinephrine opens airways and decreases airway spasms.
Anaphylaxis: Epinephrine relaxes airway muscles. It’s the first-response treatment for this severe, life-threatening allergic reaction.
What are the side effects of epinephrine as a medication?
Side effects of epinephrine as an aerosol or injection that require medical attention include:
- Allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of your face, lips or tongue.
- Breathing problems.
- Chest pain.
- Fast heartbeat.
- High blood pressure.
- Trouble passing urine or change in the amount of urine.
- Trouble sleeping.
What health conditions result from low levels of epinephrine?
Health conditions that result from low levels of epinephrine include:
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
Changes in blood pressure, heart rate.
What health conditions result from high levels of epinephrine?
Health conditions that result from high levels of epinephrine include:
High blood pressure (hypertension).
Rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Cold or pale skin.
Nervous feeling, jitters.
Epinephrine overdose, which can lead to high blood pressure, stroke and death.
Pheochromocytoma, which is an adrenal gland tumor.