What Happens When Too Much Adrenaline Is Produced?

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When the body produces too much adrenaline, a person likely has phaeochromocytoma, a rare tumor of the adrenal medulla, according to the Society for Endocrinology. Symptoms of this condition include high blood pressure, fast heartbeat, palpitations, excessive sweating, weight loss and anxiety.

In 90 percent of cases, the typical cause of phaeochromocytoma is a tumor of the adrenal gland called adrenal medulla, which is responsible for overproducing adrenaline and noradrenaline, explains the University of Dundee Division of Medicine & Therapeutics. Most cases are benign, while some are malignant and can spread around the body. There are cases in which multiple tumors are found in both adrenal glands, although still benign. Phaeochromocytoma is diagnosed through a 24-hour collection of urine that reveals high levels of adrenaline and/or noradrenaline.

The University of Dundee Division of Medicine & Therapeutics notes that the common symptoms of this condition are headaches, sweating, anxiety, tremor and heart palpitations. Patients often experience sudden onset of attacks accompanied by intense headache and profuse sweating. Some also experience rapid palpitations, very high blood pressure and extreme anxiety as if they are about to die. The attack usually subsides after 15 minutes and the patient tends to feel washed out. Attacks sometimes occur once every two months or multiple times a day, and they often become gradually more frequent.