“Someone sneaks up behind you and shouts, “Boo!” For a few seconds your heart beats faster. You did not run or do any physical activity that would increase your heart rate. What caused your heart to beat so fast?”
The answer is quite simple and you might know it already. When you are scared, surprised, and/or shaken up–it can trigger something called Epinephrine. This is more commonly known as Adrenaline. In those few precious moments in which the adrenaline is running through your body, you are most likely numb or excited. Let’s dive a little deeper.
The body produces Epinephrine and Epinephrine causes one of two things to happen. You either have a sudden urge to jump back and start running or your natural reflexes kick in and you find yourself in a position that is sufficient to protect your body and/or the people around you. This is called a ‘Fight or Flight’ response. If you’ve ever been scared, you might jump back with one foot facing the route you might take to escape, balancing your weight upon your feet, so it might be easier to run. This represents the ‘Flight’ response. If you’ve ever been surprised, you might take a sharp intake of breath, let out a shout, and curl your hands into fists. This represents the ‘Fight’ response. Your heart beats faster with the Epinephrine pumping through it, thus the giant thumping in your ears.
A few months ago, I accidentally crashed a four-wheeler-like vehicle into a ditch on the side of the road, which lead into the woods. I was thrown front the front of the vehicle and into the woods. When I recovered, I stood up and immediately noticed that my legs and arms were numb. I was surprised to discover that not only were they numb, but I could feel a steady pain in each of my limbs. I knew I hadn’t broken anything which is why I was extraordinarily confused and started to panic and thought that I was more injured than I felt. My friend, who was with me and knew exactly what was going on, said that it was the adrenaline pumping through my body and that it would pass. I was experiencing the type of Epinephrine that comes from when you’re all shaken up and your body is just as confused as you are. My body eventually calmed down and my friend and I got back on the road.
In conclusion, Adrenaline causes your heart to thump so widely when you get scared. It also isn’t something to be afraid of if you haven’t experienced it majorly. Trust me, it can and will save your life one day.
Rev. Biology, Lesson 20