Adrenaline, the hormone that activates us
The adrenalin , also known as epinephrine , is one of those polyvalent substances that our body uses to regulate different bodily processes.
It is a hormone, since it travels through the blood to reach different areas of the body and fulfill its task in the most remote corners of this, but it is also a neurotransmitter , which means that it acts as an intermediary in the communication between the neurons that is established in the synaptic spaces.
You can read below The main characteristics of adrenaline and the functions it fulfills in our brain and beyond this.
Where is the adrenaline?
Adrenaline is produced by our body, specifically in the Kidney glands that are on top of the kidneys. However, it can also be synthesized in laboratories to create drugs administered in cases of medical emergency. The latter, by itself, serves to give us an idea of the importance of the existence of a substance such as adrenaline for our organism, which intervenes in several of the most basic survival processes.
Adrenaline: the substance of activation
It is true that adrenaline fulfills many functions, but that does not mean that we can not recognize a more or less clear pattern in the different effects it has on us. This pattern can be summarized in the following: the adrenaline is the hormone and the neurotransmitter of the situations in which we have to be alert and activated . Said in other words, the adrenaline predisposes us to react quickly and prepares us to get the most out of our muscles when it is necessary to move with a certain speed, either because of the danger we run or to find ourselves in situations where we are It offers the opportunity to earn something if we are agile enough.
Adrenaline prepares us for situations in which we need to be specially activated both physically and psychologically. That's why you can say that adrenaline triggers survival mechanisms that are launched in emergency situations, such as those in which danger is perceived or must be reacted quickly.
Different activation mechanisms
Adrenaline does not act globally activating our organism, since there is no single "spring" that puts us in that state of alert. Instead, it goes to different parts of the body to produce different effects that, in their interaction with each other and with the rest of vital functions, have as a consequence activation .
The most important warning processes that adrenaline triggers when segregated in relatively high amounts are these:
1. Dilate the pupils
It causes the pupils to dilate, so that more light comes in and we are more conscious of what happens around us.
2. Dilates the blood vessels
Thanks to the adrenaline, the blood vessels more related to the vital organs are widened, while those that are thinner and close to the outer layer of the skin are compressed (giving us a somewhat pale appearance), since they are not so important and in situations of danger they could break down. The result is an increase in blood pressure .
3. Mobilize glycogen
The release of adrenaline is related to the decomposition of glycogen, which is the energy that remains reserved in the muscles and other parts of the body for those moments more physically demanding. The consequence of this is that the concentration of blood glucose ready to be burned (for example in case of imminent danger) increases .
4. Increase the heart rate
Get the heart rate faster so that we can face big efforts more easily . By pumping more blood, our muscles are better supplied with oxygen, so they can make greater efforts.
5. Slow the movement of the intestines
Slow down the bowel movement, since consumes an energy that is not so necessary in moments of alert . A way to ensure that energy is concentrated in the muscles.
6. Increase the rate at which we breathe
Adrenaline increases the pace with which we inspire and expire, to oxygenate the blood better and perform more physically .
Physiological and psychological effects
As with all hormones and neurotransmitters, it can not be said that adrenaline has effects only on the "rational" dimension of our psyche, just as it does not have them exclusively in our most emotional part.
The functions it fulfills are both physiological (such as regulation of blood pressure or respiratory rate and dilatation of the pupils) as psychological (stay alert and be more sensitive to any stimulus), since both domains overlap.
Adrenaline excesses are also paid
A excess of adrenaline It does not come free for our organism. Upward imbalances in the levels of this substance can generate hypertension, headache, increased temperature and symptoms associated with anxiety disorders or chronic stress, such as nausea, tremors or sleeping problems. Further, the adrenaline spikes can make the vision more blurred , since they increase the pressure in the eyes.
This is something that we should take into account when assessing the quality of our lifestyle. Being active all day can be more or less productive depending on the person and the context, but it sure is not healthy. The body needs to rest and that is why we must pay attention to the signals that our body sends us in the form of fatigue and sleep.
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- Netter, F.H. (1999). Nervous System: Anatomy and Physiology. Madrid: Masson.
- Soler, M. (Ed.). (2003). Evolution. The basis of Biology. Granada: South Edition Project.