Sympathetic Division

Human anatomy > Autonomic Nervous System > Sympathetic Division

Have you ever been confronted with a stressful situation and did not know whether to run away or confront it?  Your breath quickens, your ears roar and your heartbeat increases. This is what is called the “fight or flight” response of the sympathetic division of the body to emergency situations.

What is the sympathetic division?

This is a division of the autonomic nervous system that is responsible for preparing the body to fight or flight. The body does this by initiating the occurrence of a series of processes. These various processes help the body to respond and cope to threats, stress or emergency occurrences.  

What are these processes?

Increased blood circulation

Blood circulation increases because of increased heartbeat and heart rate. As blood circulation is enhanced, oxygen is readily pumped into the cells, tissues and organs, providing faster respiration of the cells.  This process could rid the blood vessels of clots or clogs and could free the way for better circulation. Better circulation will improve the health of the body in general.

Increased blood pressure

Due to increase in blood circulation, your blood pressure consequently gets elevated, too.  This will prepare you for a more strenuous physical activity.  The normal blood pressure for adults is usually 120 systolic and 80 diastolic; but in this case, it can increase to 140 systolic and 90 diastolic or even more, depending on how stressful the situation is. 

Release of glucose

Glucose is the most predominant monosaccharide and is the main source of energy for the body.  During a sympathetic response, the sympathetic division will initiate glycolysis and glycogenolysis to increase the glucose released from the liver to the bloodstream. Glycolysis is the breakdown of glucose to produce energy, while glycogenolysys is the breakdown of glycogen back to glucose for utilization as energy.

Inhibition of digestive activities

Some digestive activities are inhibited so that the body is to ready face or run away from the threat.  Sometimes, this can cause mild queasiness and discomfort in the abdominal area. Sometimes, in extreme instances, people are prompted to urinate or defecate because of this.

The sympathetic nervous system or division works through both the sympathetic chain ganglia and the collateral ganglia, which is responsible for a person’s response to these situations.  Because of this, a person who could not ordinarily carry a refrigerator can now carry one because of these processes that strengthen the body and increase physical stamina.

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