What Triggers Paraganglioma & How Does It Affect The Body?

Paraganglioma occurring as a result of too many catecholamines in the bloodstream is triggered by physical activity, physical injury, and even stress that can cause this condition.1

Eating foods high in tyramine such as strong and aged cheese, cured or smoked meats and certain overripe fruits can make the condition worse.2

Paraganglioma commonly affects people between ages 20 and 50 causing high blood pressure, a rapid heartbeat, flushed skin, sweating, headache and tremors.3,4

What Triggers Paraganglioma?

Paraganglioma is a rare variety of cancer and is diagnosed in a very small population of the people every year. A study shows that around 200 cases are noticed in the UK every year. Most cases of this condition are caused by abnormal cells that produce hormones called catecholamines or adrenaline (a hormone produced by the adrenal gland helps the body prepare for the flight or fight reactions)

Paraganglioma occurring as a result of too many catecholamines in the bloodstream is triggered by physical activity, physical injury, and even stress can cause this condition.

Physical Activity- When patients experiencing this condition exert themselves with strenuous activities or physical exercises, the blood pressure level goes high with increased palpitations, sweating, and headache.1

Physical Injury & Pain – A physical injury or having a lot of emotional stress can trigger the signs and symptoms of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma and can cause serious health problems.

Childbirth- Certain cases of paraganglioma are diagnosed during pregnancy and are found to be challenging causing neonatal hypotension and respiratory depression.

Anxiety Or Stress – Certain activities or conditions can make symptoms worse especially anxiety and stress produce excess catecholamines increasing the heart rate, blood pressure levels, breathing rates, and eventually affecting the mental alertness.

Eating foods high in tyramine such as strong and aged cheese, cured or smoked meats and certain overripe fruits can make the condition worse. Foods that are cured, smoked, pickled, spoiled is perhaps regarded as an antagonist to this condition. They affect blood pressure and worsen the symptoms.2

How Does Paraganglioma Affect The Body?

Paraganglioma commonly affects people between ages 20 and 50 causing high blood pressure, a rapid heartbeat, flushed skin, sweating, headache, and tremors. Half of the paraganglioma cancer develops in the bone primarily on the sides of the temporal bone. When cancer occurs on the sides of the head/skull it can affect hearing resulting in hearing loss, dizziness, and facial paralysis. Based on the category of the paraganglioma the body functions are affected

Carotid Paraganglioma – Also known as a chemodectoma developing in the side of the neck on carotid artery branches through which the blood is transmitted to the central nervous system. It produces swallowing difficulties, eye problems, and loss of taste in the tongue.

Cervical Paraganglioma – They are slow-growing tumors affecting the lower cranial nerve. They can cause hearing loss and produce palsy.

The common problems of paraganglioma involve anxiety attack, irregular heartbeat, excessive paleness of the facial muscles, shortness of breath, and a few others.3,4

A paraganglioma is an uncommon case of cancer that primarily occurs in the peripheral nervous system (subdivided into the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system) of the body that controls the blood pressure. It can develop in any part of the body however there is an increased risk in the head, neck, chest, and abdomen.

Medical studies demonstrate that paraganglioma mainly occurs in the abdomen and is often related to phaeochromocytoma, a tumor of the adrenal glands. There is no known cause for this condition however mutation in certain genes can increase the chances of developing the condition.

References:

  1. “Nonsyndromic Paraganglioma – Genetics Home Reference – NIH.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/nonsyndromic-paraganglioma.
  2. “Neuroendocrine Tumors.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Mar. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/paraganglioma/cdc-20352970.
  3. “Paragangliomas – Treatment, Types & Symptoms.” Mount Sinai Health System, www.mountsinai.org/locations/cerebrovascular-center/conditions/tumors/paragangliomas.
  4. “Paraganglioma.” Paraganglioma | Columbia University Department of Surgery, columbiasurgery.org/conditions-and-treatments/paraganglioma.

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