By Medically reviewed by Hello Doktor Medical Panel

Adrenaline and its function

Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands on the kidneys. Depending on the type of cells it acts upon, adrenaline may have different actions. In general, adrenaline is in charge of preparing the body for the ‘fight or flight’ responses during stressful situation. Adrenaline increases the heart rate and blood pressure, expand the air passages of the lungs, dilate the pupils, redistribute blood to the muscles and change the metabolism of the body to maximize the blood glucose levels.

How is adrenaline controlled?

Stressful events activate the nerves that are connected to the adrenal glands. This trigger the production of adrenaline, elevating the adrenaline levels in the blood. All of these happen within just 2 to 3 minutes of encountering the stressful event. When the event ends, the nerve impulses to the adrenal glands are lowered. Then, the adrenal glands stop secreting adrenaline. That’s the basic adrenaline regulation.

What is an adrenaline rush?

When the adrenaline in our blood suddenly increases, you experience an adrenaline rush. This often occurs when your brain recognize a potentially dangerous situation that may need a fight-or-flight response. An adrenaline rush can be triggered by both actual physical threats and imagined threats. Other things that can cause an adrenaline rush include rigorous exercise, disorder of the brain or the adrenal glands, anxiety, chronic stress, and heart failure.

The negative effects of an adrenaline rush

An adrenaline rush in people with heart disease can lead to weakened heart muscle, heart failure, or heart attack. The brain is affected, too. Persistently high levels of adrenaline may cause the hippocampus to shrink. Research shows that hippocampus is the main memory center of the brain. Stress hormone promote the secretion of IL-1 beta, a cytokine, or signaling molecule responsible for the inflammation in the hippocampus and the prevention of new neuron formation.

Beneficial effects of an adrenaline rush

Mildly increased levels of adrenaline can be beneficial for the blood content of leptin. Leptin is a protein produced in the white fatty tissue. It’s believed to speed up the growth of cancer cells. Normally,  the amount of leptin in the blood is proportional to the amount of fatty tissue in the body. However, stress hormones may affect the regulation of leptin produced by fatty cells. Researchers believe decreased leptin may slow down the growth of cancer cells.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Review Date: October 2, 2017 | Last Modified: December 8, 2019

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