Is your hair standing on End?

Sympathetic Rush – Part 1

Some people, when they visit the chiropractor – or dentist or doctor for that matter – experience a strong physical response.  Increased hear rate, sweating, heavy breathing.  Sometimes, there is even an emotional response – feelings of panic, stress, even tearfulness.  Don’t be alarmed.  This feeling is a normal natural response, is not generally dangerous, and can be managed simply and quickly.

But what is this feeling?  And why does it happen to some and not others?  Well, it is known a Sympathetic Rush, or Adrenalin Rush.  And some people are more prone to experience it because of their body chemistry.  So let’s have a look at the origins and causes, and what you can do if you experience Sympathetic Rush.

The Autonomic Nervous System

The Autonomic Nervous System is the system in our bodies that manages all the functions of our body that are not consciously controlled.  Things like breathing, heartbeat and digestion.

This system has two main strands, which work together to balance each other out.

Sympathetic Nervous System

This system controls what is commonly called the ‘fight or flight’ reaction.  Release of a neurotransmitter called Norepinephrine activates the brain, muscles, thyroid and adrenal glands.  When the Sympathetic nervous system is triggered you will experience an increase in heart rate and blood sugar levels, sweatiness, dilation of pupils and that feeling we all know – hair ‘standing on end’.  In short, your body becomes ‘stimulated’ – in order to defend the body against attack.

Stimulation of the Sympathetic Nervous system can be episodic – a response to acute stress in any given moment.  Like a visit to the chiropractor or the dentist.  It can also be a long term problem, caused by ongoing stress and lifestyle issues such as poor sleep, anxiety disorders or poor diet.  This long term type of response can cause adrenal fatigue, and increase the likelihood of episodic Sympathetic Rush.

Parasympathetic Nervous System

In contrast, the Parasympathetic System manages the healing and regeneration of the body.  The neurotransmitter Acetylcholine activates the liver, kidneys, spleen, stomach and intestines.  Your heart rate will slow, blood pressure decrease, and digestion is stimulated.  The Parasympathetic system is the one responsible for healing and regeneration.  By activating digestion, it helps eliminate toxins from the body and increases the immune system.  So we can see how important this aspect of the Autonomic Nervous System is.  However, if the Parasympathetic System is dominant, we can become depressed and lethargic, along with experiencing weight gain and low blood pressure.

A Delicate Balance

These two systems need to remain in a delicate balance in order for us to function normally on a day to day basis.  But sometimes, one or the other is triggered and becomes dominant.

Next time, we will talk about what causes Sympathetic Rush, whether there is such a thing as Parasympathetic Rush, and what you can do to reduce the likelihood and severity of these inconvenient, sometimes scary episodes.  If you would like advice on the Autonomic Nervous System call our Baulkham Hills Clinic on 9639 7337.

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