Vasoconstriction

Vasoconstriction is the process of constriction of blood vessels, which may result in decrease of flow of blood. Normal blood flow is necessary for carrying oxygenated blood to all parts of the body and when the normal flow is disrupted it may cause various problems. Vasoconstriction can occur due to medical condition or due to psychological disorder.

This condition happens when the small muscles of the walls constrict causing narrowing of blood vessels. Actually this process is exactly opposite condition of vaso-dilation in which the blood vessels enlarge or open widely. The contraction of blood vessels can increase the heat of the body and may cause vascular conflict. Following this condition, the skin becomes paler than before since blood supply is drastically reduced.

It occurs mostly on large arteries thus obstructing the blood flow but sometimes it can develop on small arterioles causing constriction of blood vessels.

Symptoms :

Some of the symptoms of vasoconstriction are tingling sensation on fingers and toes, numbness in extremities, headache, cramps, increased blood pressure, and change in skin color (it becomes pale), imbalance, partial loss of vision or double vision, paralysis in muscles and loss of muscle control. In some people it may also cause slurred speech depending on the severity of the problem.

Causes :

Taking plenty of coffee or other caffeinated drinks can narrow down the walls of blood vessels. Smoking and drinking alcohol can cause this effect to some extent. Taking antihistamine drugs for long term, drug abuse like cocaine, nicotine and stimulant drugs can seriously cause constriction of blood vessels. Increase in sodium content and monosodium glutamate can cause this problem.

Treatment :

Your doctor should find out the underlying factors that cause vasoconstriction before giving treatment. He may prescribe alpha adrenoreceptor antagonist (which is a vasodilator) for reducing the constriction of blood vessels and increasing blood flow. Treating the problem with calcium channel blockers would facilitate widening of blood vessels.

You need to do regular cardiovascular exercise every day which would certainly increase blood flow.
Indirectly vasoconstriction helps the body to maintain arterial blood pressure. When the person gets affected with cardiac problem, it may cause hypoxic vasoconstriction to increase the oxygen level in blood. Very often vasoconstriction gives a warning signal to the individual about the irregular health condition.

Consequences :

Due to vasoconstriction, the person’s skin will turn pale due to reduced blood flow reaching the skin. This in turn will cool the body stopping the heat or radiation temporarily. It helps in restoring the balance of heat in all mammals and it would prevent hypothermia.

Vasoconstriction is in fact the symptom or warning indicating the health condition of the body. If continued for long period, it can cause serious side effects and you need to take counter medicines to dilate the blood vessels.

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