Catecholamines are a group that includes norepinephrine, epinephrine, and other compounds. They act as neurotransmitters and hormonal agents. Despite having similar chemical structures, these compounds produce different effects on your body. read more about Epinephrine vs Norepinephrine below
Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline or norepinephrine, is sometimes referred to as noradrenaline. Both substances are involved in the regulation and operation of the sympathetic nervous, the portion of the autonomic nerve system responsible for the body’s “fight or flee” response.
This article will discuss the similarities and differences in epinephrine (and norepinephrine) and their respective functions. We also discuss their medical uses as well as the health consequences of too much or too low levels in the body.
What are epinephrine and norepinephrine?
Both hormones and neurotransmitters are norepinephrine (epinephrine) and Epinephrine (norepinephrine).
Hormones, which are chemical messengers, travel through the bloodstream. The hormones that regulate the body’s organs and tissues are made by the endocrine glands.
Neurotransmitters, a type also of chemical messenger, are found only in nerve cells. They travel across synapses (junctions where two nerve fibres meet) and are not present in other cells. In response to electrical impulses, neurotransmitters are produced by nerve cells.
The adrenal medulla is the inner part of the adrenal gland and regulates the release of epinephrine as well as norepinephrine to counter stress and other imbalances such low blood pressure.
Epinephrine activates both alpha- and beta-adrenoreceptors in cells, whereas norepinephrine mainly stimulates alpha-adrenoreceptors.
Below, we discuss the main functions and uses of epinephrine.
The brain senses danger when the amygdala activates the hypothalamus, activating the autonomic nervous systems.
The adrenal gland responds to signals from the autonomic nerve system by pumping epinephrine in the bloodstream. This surge of epinephrine is often called an adrenaline rush, or fight or flight response.
Epinephrine has a profound effect on the heart, lungs and muscles as well as blood vessels. The bloodstream releases Epinephrine, which causes several physiological changes such as:
Increased heart rate and blood circulation
Increasing blood sugar levels
Increased strength and performance
Low blood pressure and stress trigger the adrenal medulla to produce norepinephrine. Vasoconstriction is the narrowing of blood vessels and this promotes norepinephrine, which increases blood pressure.
Norepinephrine is similar to epinephrine in that it increases heart rate and blood sugar.
Poor nutrition, chronic stress, certain medications, and other health conditions can all affect the body’s ability or inability to produce and respond to norepinephrine.
Rare condition known as genetic dopamine beta hydroxylase deficiency prevents the body’s ability to convert dopamine to norepinephrine. Important point as part of Epinephrine vs Norepinephrine
A 2018 article states that genetic dopamine beta-hydroxylase deficiencies are caused by a mutation in the gene g237c of the norepinephrinetransporter gene. These authors concluded that the condition could decrease sympathetic nerve activity, increase blood vessel damage and increase the risk of heart disease.
Low levels of norepinephrine or epinephrine may cause mental and physical symptoms such as:
Blood pressure changes
changes in heart rate
Hypoglycemia, low blood sugar
Norepinephrine also plays a key role in focus and promotes sustained attention. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be caused by low levels of norepinephrine.
These medications can increase norepinephrine levels:
Amphetamines such as methylphenidate, (Ritalin), and dextroamphetamines (Adderall), are available.
serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta)
Some medical conditions such as cancer, chronic stress and obesity can cause adrenal gland damage and excess norepinephrine or epinephrine production.
High levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine may cause symptoms such as:
Rapid or irregular heartbeat
High blood pressure
Shakiness and jitteriness
You can have pale skin or very cold skin
According to a 2018 study, high levels of norepinephrine may increase the risk of kidney and cardiovascular disease.
People who receive epinephrine injections for medical reasons can become addicted to the drug. Overdoses of injected epinephrine could lead to dangerously high blood pressure or stroke, and even death.
What are they used for?
Epinephrine, in its synthetic form, is used to treat a variety of medical conditions. It is a neurotransmitter and hormone.
It is used primarily to treat anaphylaxis. This is an allergic reaction that can cause severe breathing problems. A shot of epinephrine may be administered to help open your airway and allow you to breathe.
Epinephrine can also be used for other purposes:
Asthma attacks. Inhaled epinephrine may be used to treat severe asthma attacks.
Cardiac arrest. If your heart stops pumping (cardiac arrest), an epinephrine injection can help restart your heart.
Anesthesia. You can prolong the life of local anesthetics by adding epinephrine.
Norepinephrine is sometimes used by doctors to treat severe infections like septic shock. This can cause organ failure. This infection can lead to dangerously low blood pressure. An IV of norepinephrine can constrict blood vessels and increase blood pressure.
While epinephrine could also be used, it is preferable to use norepinephrine due to its pure alpha-receptor action.
People with ADHD and depression may take medication that increases or stimulates norepinephrine release, such as:
serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, such as duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
The difference is the main
Epinephrine can be used to treat severe asthma attacks, cardiac arrest, anaphylaxis and cardiac arrest. Norepinephrine is used to treat dangerously high blood pressure. ADHD and depression can also be helped by medications that increase norepinephrine.
We will discuss the medical uses of synthetic forms of epinephrine or norepinephrine.
To treat severe medical conditions, like anaphylaxis and heart attacks, doctors prescribe epinephrine.
Anaphylaxis can be a serious allergic reaction that can cause severe breathing problems. It requires immediate medical attention. Anaphylactic shock is countered by Epinephrine, which narrows blood vessels, relaxes muscles and opens the airways.
People at high risk for anaphylaxis often keep an epinephrine self-injector on them at all times.
Epinephrine can also be used by doctors to treat severe asthma attacks, heart arrest and other serious infections.
People who have suffered a heart attack can use norepinephrine to raise their systolic blood pressure.
Hypotension is critical
Similar chemicals, norepinephrine (epinephrine) and epilephrine (norepinephrine), act in the body as neurotransmitters and hormonal hormones. Both substances play an essential role in the body’s fight or flight response. Their release into the bloodstream can cause increased blood pressure, heart beat, and blood sugar.
Epinephrine works on the alpha and beta-adrenoreceptors found in the blood vessels, muscles, heart, lungs, and brain. Norepinephrine is a metabolite of dopamine that primarily acts on the alpha-adrenoreceptors in the blood vessels.
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