Is Epinephrine a Steroid?

Is Epinephrine a Steroid? A commonly asked question. Adrenaline or adrenalin is also known as epinephrine. It is produced by the adrenal glands as a hormone. Later on, it was prepared to given as a medication in various life threatening conditions like anaphylaxis, cardiac arrest and severe allergic reactions, asthma.

The main advantage of epinephrine medication is that it can be given in a variety of ways depending upon the desired result. It can be given intravenously or injected into the muscles. It may be also prescribed through inhalation or injected subcutaneously.

The body produces epinephrine as flight or flight hormone.  It is mainly a catecholamine and acts as an active sympathomimetic hormone that is produced by the adrenal medulla. It stimulates both the alpha and the beta adrenergic systems to cause vasoconstriction and gastrointestinal relaxation throughout the body. It is mainly used as a medication to delay the absorption of the local anesthetics given in case of asthma or cardiac failure.

Is Epinephrine a Steroid?

With a chemical formula of C9H13NO3, it has the IUPAC nomenclature of 4-[(1R)-1-hydroxy-2 (methylamino)ethyl]benzene-1,2-diol. This gives it the identity of a catecholamine that refers to a side chain of amine present in the catechol structure. This categorises it to a non-steroidal compound. Epinephrine acts as a hormone as well as a neurotransmitter. It appears to be an odorless, microcrystalline powder or granules that are white in colour. When used as a medication in injections, it is filled along with nitrogen so that no air can come in contact with it and therefore no oxidation occurs. Oxidation results in its change in colour from white to pink or dark colour.
This colour change denotes that the epinephrine is no longer safe to use for medical purposes. As a drug, it is mainly used to treat anaphylaxis and sepsis along with being one of the body’s main adrenergic neurotransmitter ( that helps in synapse I.e., transfer of information from one neuron to another). Symptoms such as swelling of the lips, eyelids, and tongue which may result from reactions to drugs, sera, insect stings, food, or other allergens may be relieved by epinephrine.

It is given to all patients with signs of systemic reactions, particularly hypotension, airway swelling, or definite breathing difficulty. The application of epinephrine as a drug is not done orally. This is because the drug gets rapidly
conjugated in the gastrointestinal mucosa and gets oxidised in the liver. And therefore its rapid deactivation takes place with a biological half life of 2 minutes. Thus, it is necessary that is given subcutaneously or through intramuscular injection for its rapid absorption and optimal effect. As mentioned above, it is a nonsteroidal compound.

It is a catecholamine that is derived from the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine. Apart from acting as a vasoconstrictor and relaxer for muscles, it also increases the blood sugar level by elevating the process of hydrolysis of glycogen into glucose in the liver and has a suppressive effect on the immune system. As it is very potent drug that affects the body in a very extensive way, therefore it should be kept safe and stored in tight light resistant containers. This is because it becomes unstable in the presence of light or air and upon decomposition, it emits toxic fumes of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Overdosing may lead to some serious side effects like sweating, nausea and vomiting, pale skin, feeling of short breath, dizziness, weakness or tremor and headaches. This compound is highly toxic by ingestion and may be fatal by inhalation or skin absorption.

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