are also called adrenergic amines or sympathomimetic drugs. They are medicines
that work by stimulating the sympathetic
nervous system (SNS). The SNS is part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
It helps to regulate your body’s reaction to stress or an emergency. During these
times, the SNS releases chemicals called neurotransmitters from the adrenal
gland. These chemicals act on your body to increase heart rate, sweating, and
breathing rate, and decrease digestion. The response by your body is sometimes
called the “fight or flight”
stimulate the same nerves by either mimicking the action of the neurotransmitter
norepinephrine or stimulating its
release. They are used for many life-threatening conditions. These include cardiac
arrest, shock, or opening the airways during an asthma attack or allergic
stimulate the adrenergic nerves. The structures of the drugs closely resemble
the neurotransmitters that your body produces during times of stress, such as norepinephrine. Norepinephrine acts
directly on the adrenergic receptors. Therefore, adrenergic drugs are able to
interact with the same receptor sites as the neurotransmitter.
There are several
types of adrenergic receptors in the body. The specific action of the drug
depends on which type of the adrenergic receptor is affected. It also depends
on whether or not the drug acts directly on the receptor or indirectly by
stimulating the release of neurotransmitters. The receptors include:
Examples of the
affects adrenergic drugs can have on the body include:
the airways leading to the lungs
have been developed to act on specific receptors in the body. The condition
they are used to treat depends on which receptor is affected by the drug.
Examples of some broad types of adrenergic drugs and their uses include:
on the beta-receptors directly to improve breathing in patients with respiratory
diseases like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema,
and bronchitis. They open up the bronchial tubes, or air passages. Examples of
adrenergic drugs used for bronchodilation include:
This list is not
allergic reaction to insect stings, foods, or other substances can cause
swelling that tightens up the air passages. Epinephrine can be injected in
these emergency situations to open up the airways.
act on the alpha-1, beta-1, and beta-2 adrenergic receptors. They also act on
dopamine receptors. They can act on more than one type of receptor at the same
time. Examples of these types of adrenergic drugs include:
stimulate smooth muscle contraction of the blood vessels. The blood vessels are
the part of the circulatory system that moves blood around the body. The muscle
contraction leads to vasoconstriction.
Vasoconstriction is the narrowing of the blood vessels. The narrowing of the
blood vessels will cause a rise in blood pressure.
The increased blood
pressure can be used to treat patients with shock. Constriction of the blood
vessels can also be useful to stop bleeding as well as to keep anesthetics to a
specific area of the body. They do this by closing off nearby blood vessels to
keep the anesthetic from spreading.
Drugs in this class
may also be used when swelling of the blood vessels in the mucous membranes of
the nose blocks up the nasal passage and causes discharge. This might happen if
you have a cold or allergies. Adrenergic drugs can act on sympathetic nerves to
shrink the swollen membranes and provide relief for a few hours. These drugs
are often referred to as nasal decongestants.
are also used to stimulate and restore the heart beat if a person’s heart stops
beating. This might occur due to drowning, electrocution, suffocation, or other
causes. Epinephrine, for example, can be injected directly into the heart to
make the heart start beating again.
The FDA approved
label for epinephrine states that the drug should be used with caution in
people with heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias, or hypertension (FDA).
You should tell
your doctor if you are taking any other prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
Side effects depend
on which adrenergic drug you are taking.
Common side effects
of adrenergic drugs, like epinephrine, include: