What is epinephrine, and how does it relate to extreme stress?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Your adrenal glands produce the hormone epinephrine, and its level surges when you get excited. In normal daily life, your levels of epinephrine hover between 200 to 800 nanograms per milliliter. You know that feeling when you narrowly avoid a car accident-when your face feels flushed, your heart races, and you swear at the incompetence of no-look mergers? In that case, epinephrine levels rise to between 1,500 and 2,500 nanograms per milliliter.

In times of crisis for people with adrenal tumors, the level can reach 300,000-and force their blood pressure literally off the scale. (Imagine feeling like you just had a close-call accident all the time--that's how people with adrenal tumors feel.)

Typically it takes eight years before organized medicine diagnoses the tumor. Another interesting finding: 50 percent of people with these tumors are alcoholics, presumably because they use alcohol to calm themselves from that intense stress.
YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

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YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

Between your full-length mirror and high-school biology class, you probably think you know a lot about the human body. While it's true that we live in an age when we're as obsessed with our bodies as...

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Endocrine System

Your endocrine system works with your nervous system to control important bodily functions. The endocrine systems responsibilities include regulating growth, sexual development and function, metabolism and mood. The endocrine syst...

em also helps give your body the energy it needs to function properly. Endocrine glands secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones are considered chemical messengers, coordinating your body by transferring information from one set of cells to another. Your endocrine system health can be affected by hormone imbalances resulting from impaired glands. A hormone imbalance can cause problems with bodily growth, sexual development, metabolism and other bodily functions. Endocrine system diseases or conditions include diabetes, growth disorders and osteoporosis.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.