Is your hair standing on end?

Part 2

In our last post we talked about the delicate balance between the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems and their effect on the body.  Now, let’s have a look at what it is that causes Sympathetic Rush, and what you can do about it.  And is there such a thing as Parasympathetic Rush?

Causes of Sympathetic Rush

When you are in a stressful situation – such as a dentist visit, or visiting the chiropractor, where you know you may feel discomfort – the body releases Norepinephrine, which triggers Sympathetic Rush.  It is automatic and completely outside of our control.  So even though our brain knows we are completely safe, our body takes over the wheel.

If you are over tired, not eating properly, under a great deal of stress or have an underlying condition like diabetes, peripheral nerve disorder or neuromuscular junction disorders, you are more likely to experience Sympathetic Rush.

Other things that can trigger a Sympathetic Rush Response are sugar, caffeine, cigarettes, drugs & alcohol and too much exercise.

Once the Rush symptoms have been triggered we very quickly feel unwell.  But there is a way to resolve the problem.

The Good News

If you experience Sympathetic Rush it is important to recognize it and respond as quickly as possible.  Whilst the Sympathetic Nervous System responds very quickly, the Parasympathetic System is, by nature, slower.  However, there are a number of things you can do for immediate relief:

  • Try and stay calm – not always easy to do, but it is important to try and slow everything down. If you happen to be driving pull over somewhere safe and wait it out.
  • Control your breathing – slow deep breaths
  • Close your eyes and if possible lie down
  • Try and reduce the level of light
  • Drink some water to stimulate your digestion, but don’t have anything sugary!
  • Meditate – if you frequently suffer from this response, find an easy, quick meditation you can do anywhere. It will come in very handy.

If you often suffer from this type of reaction, some lifestyle things you might consider are:

  • Make sure you get enough rest and sleep. These are not necessarily the same thing.  You need both.
  • Reduce your intake of sugar, caffeine, alcohol cigarettes and drugs.
  • Regular yoga and meditation
  • Improve your diet – you know the drill, plenty of fresh vegetables and lean meats
  • Look at the stressors in your life and see if there is some way you can reduce them. This is not always possible, but sometimes a small change is all it takes.

Parasympathetic Not-Rush

Since the Parasympathetic Nervous System is activated by rest, it follows that there is no equivalent ‘rush’.  It’s more like a ‘flow’.  But dominance of the parasympathetic system can be just as destructive as the Sympathetic System.  In some ways it can be more insidious, because it can creep up on you with little or no warning.  If you are feeling fatigued, depressed, gaining weight for no apparent reason, you could be suffering from an unhealthy dominance of your Parasympathetic System.

The key to rebalancing this system is to start some more dynamic exercise to increase your heart rate.  Acupuncture, with its focus on balance can also help.  It is also wise to have your thyroid function tested.

If you suffer from Sympathetic Rush, make sure you let your health professional know so that they can monitor you throughout treatment and make sure you are OK before you leave their premises.  If you would like to know more about this condition, call our Baulkham Hills Clinic on 9639 7337.

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