Since mitral valve prolapse syndrome patients usually have very sensitive nervous systems, it may not come as a shock that many (most?) of us cannot tolerate epinephrine. Each time I go to a new dentist (which I try not to do very often), I have to go through the same song and dance explaining why I can’t tolerate it and what happens when I have it. And every time the dentist will say, “That’s a normal reaction — that’s what it’s supposed to do,” and then he will give it to me and then they have to call an ambulance.
The worst episode was about 10 years ago when the doctor and nurse actually had to sit with me while he had his hand on the phone, ready to call for help. I couldn’t breathe, my fingers and lips were completely blue, and my entire body was trembling like I was in Alaska without a coat. It took about a half hour to come down from that, and ever since then I practice saying “NO” before walking into any dentist’s office.
It doesn’t help that sometimes dentist appointments happen so infrequently, so that two years go by and you’ve forgotten. That’s why it’s so important to have a note in your file (“NO EPI”) so that they remember instead of you having to.
There are other situations, albeit maybe less severe, that can cause similar reactions. For instance, the only medication that alleviates my migraines once they come is Excedrin, but if I take two pills (the recommended dosage), I will experience the same symptoms as in the dentist’s office after being given epinephrine. So when I get a migraine, I can only take one pill or suffer worse consequences than the migraine.
Even without epinephrine or Excedrin, I still am prone to adrenaline rushes quite often. A thought can trigger them, a sound, a memory, a smell — anything can trigger that fight-or-flight system, and sometimes an adrenaline rush can happen for no reason at all, during your sleep in the middle of the night. The result is chest tightness, a racing heart, dizziness or lightheadedness, and (for me, anyway) frequent trips to the restroom.
Epinephrine can be avoided, and medication dosages can be controlled, but the rest of the problem comes down to you and you alone. Adrenaline rushes are more likely to be a problem after drinking alcohol, when eating or drinking foods or drinks that have caffeine, when you have too much sugar (which is just another form of a stimulant) and when your stress levels are not being controlled. Cut out the alcohol, cut out the caffeine and sugar, walk regularly or take yoga, and look into supplements to help control your nervous system. As I’ve mentioned before, magnesium taurate is doing wonders for me — helping to prevent migraines as well as adrenaline rushes. It’s made a huge improvement in my life.
We have to take control over our health. No one is going to do it for us. If you’re having symptoms that are affecting your quality of life, find a way to fix it — don’t just assume you have to live with it. Do something about it!