Adrenaline (medication): effects, when, risks

Adrenaline (medication): effects, when, risks

Adrenaline is a hormone mainly produced by the adrenal glands (located above the kidneys) in response to stress, fear, anger and exhaustion. It is used in emergency treatment. In what directions? What drugs? In what forms? What are the dangers and side effects?

What are the effects of adrenaline?

It’s a substance to fight against arterial hypotension by its cardiac action (increases heart rate and contractions) and its vasoconstrictor action (reduces the diameter of the vessels). Adrenaline causes a reduction of wheezing and difficulty breathing. Additionally, it deals with symptoms occurring during anaphylactic shock (allergic shock): itching, flushing, angioedema (swelling of tissue under the skin).

Indications: when to take adrenaline?

Adrenaline drugs are mainly used as emergency treatment for anaphylactic shock. A patient at risk should always have his treatment with him in a first aid kit. Anaphylactic shock (or allergic shock) can be caused by food (peanut, cow’s milk), medication (antibiotics), a bite (black widow spider, tick), a sting (bee, wasp), physical exertion or other allergens. Furthermore, adrenaline is indicated in the treatment of cardio-circulatory distress and treatment of cardiovascular arrest. In an allergic context, adrenaline should not be used in children under 15 kg except in the event of a risk of death or a medical decision. In the other indications, there is no minimum age limit.

adrenaline exercises action on the heart (stimulation), on the blood vessels and on the bronchi (increase in the caliber of the bronchi, relaxing action). In addition, it blocks the release of inflammatory and allergy mediators. In the event of anaphylactic shock, an injection of adrenaline should be performed as soon as the first signs of a serious allergic reaction appear. The time of action is very fast, at most a few minutes. To promote the absorption of the active substance, the area around the injection site should be massaged. If symptoms do not improve after 5 to 15 minutes, a second injection with a new pen will need to be performed.

In what form to take adrenaline?

Adrenaline is administered by injection. The medicinal solution comes in three forms:

  • in pre-filled pen
  • in pre-filled syringe
  • in bulb

The pen is intended for single use only

In the event of an anaphylactic reaction, adrenaline comes in the form of a pen or a pre-filled syringe (auto-injector device) intended for intramuscular route (faster effect than subcutaneously). This form makes it possible to secure the delivered dose and to save time. The pen should be discarded after use, it is intended for single use only. The injection is made at level of the antero-lateral aspect of the thigh and not in the gluteal muscle. It is possible to inject the solution in direct contact with the skin or through clothing, forming a 90° angle with the surface of the thigh. In a resuscitation context, adrenaline can be administered intravenously (adrenaline in ampoules) by an experienced healthcare professional.

Is adrenaline available without a prescription?

Adrenaline drugs are only available on presentation of a prescription.

What are the dangers and side effects of adrenaline?

The occurrence of side effects depends on the dose used and the sensitivity of the patient. The most frequently reported side effects at low doses are:

cardio-respiratory disorders such as heart palpitations, breathing difficulties and digestive disorders like nausea and vomiting.

► Similarly a coldness of extremities, sweating, dizziness, tremors, headaches and anxiety can be observed.
► Less frequently, adrenaline can lead to hallucinations, blackouts, muscle tremors, difficulty urinating, and metabolic disorders such as hyperglycemia, potassium deficiency.
In patients sensitive to adrenaline or receiving a high dose, serious effects may occur: heart rate abnormalities (cardiac arrest), high blood pressure (possibly going as far as cerebral hemorrhage), narrowing of the diameter of blood vessels (in the skin, mucous membranes and kidneys). Some adrenaline treatments contain sodium metabisulphite which can induce asthma attacks and mild to severe allergic reactions (risk of death).

What are the contraindications to adrenaline?

Adrenaline contraindications are:

  • a allergy known to one of the components
  • of the heart rhythm disorders
  • a obstructive cardiomyopathy (disease affecting the muscular wall of the heart)
  • a coronary insufficiency

Since adrenaline is used in an emergency situation, the contraindications are relative and can sometimes not be taken into account for the benefit of the patient’s survival. In this case benefit-risk balance will be assessed by the doctor.

Sources:
– Public drug database

– Vidal

#Adrenaline #medication #effects #risks

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