Overactive sympathetic nervous system is the condition which the flight or fight responses are activated. Sympathetic Nervous System usually operates in a series of interconnected neurons and is usually considered as a part of Peripheral Nervous System. However, many sympathetic neurons lie in the Central Nervous System. Those from the spinal cord usually communicate to sympathetic neurons through a series of other sympathetic ganglia. Spinal cord sympathetic neurons are joined to the peripheral sympathetic neurons in the ganglia via chemical synapses. Peripheral sympathetic neurons are referred to as postsynaptic while spinal cord sympathetic neurons are called presynaptic neurons.
Presynaptic neurons are located within sympathetic ganglia in synapses and release a chemical messenger called acetylcholine, which activates and binds nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the postganglionic neurons. Postganglionic neurons respond by releasing noradrenaline to respond to that stimulus. Sympathetic Nervous System helps in controlling almost all the internal body organs. Continuous activation may elicit release of the adrenaline from adrenal medulla. When both adrenaline and noradrenaline combine, they bind adrenergic receptor in the peripheral tissues, which causes the flight or fight effect responses.
The flight and fight responses include: increased sweating, pupil dilation, blood pressure increase, blood vessels constriction, lungs dilation, peristalsis of digestive tract, increased kidney secretion, promotes penis ejaculation and heart rate increase. Normally, the condition of overactive sympathetic nervous system is triggered by stress associated with bullying, loss of a job or even loss of a loved one. It can act on cardiovascular system directly through impulse transmission via sympathetic nervous system through catecholamines, which is secreted by an adrenal medulla. Other symptoms include: trembling, dizziness, swallowing problems, shaking, digestive disorders, arrhythmia, vomiting, diarrhoea, impotence, ruminations, inconsistence, depersonalisation, repetitive thoughts, Anhedonia, restless legs and nausea. These reactions make the body and mind ready for quick and strenuous activities especially in dangerous environment. This is not a problem as it serves as a warning in the face of danger.
However, excessive production of adrenaline without any specific trigger may cause excessive production of magnesium in the urine, which may upset the balance between calcium and magnesium in the body. If Sympathetic Nervous System takes control for long durations, it may release the cortisol hormone instead of the adrenaline, which can harm the brain. This could also cause anxiety, mood swings, hypertension and palpitation of the heart.
Chronic overactive sympathetic nervous system may cause ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, cancer, asthma, heart diseases, atherosclerosis, stroke, cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure. It also suppresses a person’s immune system leaving them vulnerable to different illnesses. Severe suppression of immune system may lead to severe inflammation while short-term suppression may cause short-term inflammation. The condition may affect a person’s social life as they become more aware of the surrounding things than normal people.
Some responses like excessive sweating, trembling and shaking may cause embarrassment to an individual. It could be addressed using medication, meditation, diet, surgery, exercise and a change of lifestyle. Exercise and diet does not cure the condition but it maintains it at manageable levels, as they reduce stress, which is the major cause. The person suffering from such a condition should avoid sugared coffee, white bread, French fries and processed foods. Their diet should be reach in salmon and omega 3 oils.
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