Adrenaline 

Adrenaline rushes are currently driving me mad. People who have Adrenal Insufficiency can still produce adrenaline. It’s a myth when people assume that low functioning adrenals means no adrenaline. This is because there’s two bits which make up the adrenal gland and cortisol is produced from one bit and adrenaline from the other. In adrenal insufficiency, it tends to only be the cortisol producing bit which stops functioning. 

So anyway, adrenaline. If you don’t make cortisol and suddenly come into contact with a situation which would require a lot of cortisol fast e.g. An argument or accident, the body responds by flooding your system with adrenaline instead to keep you alive. Which is pretty nifty that it can do that and compensate rather than collapsing, but it’s a bit tricky to manage.

What should happen is that cortisol and adrenaline work together to keep you safe and functioning. What happens if you’ve got AI is you get the adrenaline rush, don’t get the cortisol so then when the adrenaline starts to leave your body, the body recognises that there’s something missing (cortisol) and gives you more adrenaline to compensate. Hence the adrenaline rush. 

It’s a bizarre feeling- I spent periods today switching between ‘I feel GREAT, I’m going to go for a walk/do all the chores in the house/maybe I’ll do some yoga’ and ‘oh dear god I need to lie down right now otherwise I’m going to pass out/throw up’. I didn’t go for a walk or do the chores because that would have made everything a lot worse, but I did feel like I was able to conquer the world at the time! It’s not a sustainable state though…

How do you make it stop? This is where a cortisol testing metre would be handy, like diabetics can test their blood sugar. My sudden onset of stress was actually on Tuesday but my body is still feeling the knock on affect of it now 3 days later, partially because I keep getting angry about it in my head and adrenaline gets produced. At the time, I got pretty close to calling an ambulance and was pretty ill, but managed it with extra oral hydrocortisone. But it’s still a guessing game and the dosing is never going to be 100% perfect. One way to counteract it is to take a small bump dose or updose of hydrocortisone, which I’ve done occasionally this week. But the more you updose or change your dose for adrenaline rushes, the more your body gets confused with what level of cortisol it can work with and sometimes it just dumps even more adrenaline instead. Another way is by lying down when adrenaline first starts and trying to relax and focus on keeping very calm and still. Easier said than done- like I said, I felt like I could conquer the world! Would you be able to sit quietly if you’d just done something like a parachute jump? Not really, you’d be buzzing from the adrenaline. It’s the same for me when I get an adrenaline rush. 

As it’s currently 4am and I’m waking up every hour with adrenaline rushes, despite my meditation and trying to be zen, I’m going to take a small dose of hydrocortisone. That’s another myth for AI patients- taking steroids at night will keep you awake. It doesn’t because we’re replacing what our body should be making while we’re asleep anyway, not adding on extra on top of natural cortisol production. Hopefully it’ll all level out soon and I can go back to my ‘normal’! 

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