Keeping the Airway Open: The Effect of Epinephrine

man having an asthma attackEpinephrine, a hormone secreted by the body during fight-or-flight response, has many medicinal uses for chronic and even life-threatening respiratory illnesses.  Because of this, some companies manufacture medicines to relieve respiratory problems.  An example of such medications are bronchodilators which can be bought over the counter.  Here are some indications of epinephrine.

Anaphylaxis or severe allergic reactions

During a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis, the blood pressure of the body drops and the airways constrict.  As a life-threatening reaction, injectable epinephrine can reverse these symptoms.  Epinephrine works rapidly and has an opposite effect on the body.  One, the blood vessels tighten, leading to an increase in blood pressure.  Two, the airways relax, making it easier to breathe.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

As the third leading cause of death in 2014, COPD may develop due to exposure to tobacco and air pollutants.  For patients with COPD, airflow is obstructed from the lungs.  Epinephrine works by blocking the release of acetylcholine, responsible for increased mucus production.  Also, epinephrine opens up the airways, leading to smoother breathing.


Around 10.3 million die from asthma.  Signs and symptoms of asthma include chest tightness, coughing, and wheezing.  In most cases, patients may have difficulty breathing.  Many triggers cause asthma.  Some of these triggers are dust mites, molds, and tobacco smoke.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asthma can be controlled.  Some persons inhale bronchodilators such as epinephrine to combat asthma.  Epinephrine relaxes the airways which can lead to better passage of air.

The rule of three’s is the maximum possible limit the average person must not go beyond with.  The average body must not go over three weeks without food, three days without water, and three minutes without oxygen.  And still, as in most life-threatening situations, keeping the airways open is always the priority.