Difference Between Adrenaline and Cortisol (With Table)

Hormones play a very important role in the human body and they affect everyone’s health and mind. Every emotional response in the human body has an automatic component, a behavioral component, and a hormonal component. Hormonal components include Adrenaline and cortisol.

Some of the basic differences between the two like; Adrenaline works as the neurotransmitter whereas Cortisol is considered as a steroid hormone, which increases the sugar level in the bloodstream. In this article we will learn more about the differences between these two hormones.

Adrenaline vs Cortisol

The main difference between Adrenaline and Cortisol is that Adrenaline is known as a flight hormone. The adrenal glands produce flight hormones after getting information from the brain about any stressful situation. Whereas, Cortisol is a steroid hormone called a stress hormone, which boosts circulating sugar levels and increases the chance of tissue repair.

Adrenaline is produced in the brain, which is called the medulla in the adrenal glands and also in some of the neurons that are present in the central nervous system. Adrenaline during any stressful situation rapidly gets released into the bloodstream sending Instinct signals to organs to create a specific response in the present stressful situation.

Cortisol is often referred to as the stress hormone because it is associated with the stress response, cortisol is considered one of the steroid hormones produced by the adrenal glands in our body, Almost all cells have cortisol receptors that aid in blood circulation and tissue repair in stressful situations, protecting and helping maintain a healthy body.

Comparison Table Between Adrenaline and Cortisol

DefinitionAdrenaline hormone is called fight/flight hormone produced in the medulla in the adrenal gland. Cortisol is often called a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal gland.
Nature of The HormoneAdrenaline hormone transmits Instinct signals to the brain and acts as neurotransmitter giving it an electrochemical nature. Cortisol can reduce any kind of inflammation and gives this hormone an anti-inflammatory nature.
Type of The HormoneAdrenaline is the fight/flight hormone that helps with any stressful, vicious situation.Cortisol is considered a corticosteroid hormone.
FunctionsAdrenaline increases heartbeat and works as a neurotransmitter.Cortisol increases sugar levels in bloodstreams and helps in repairing tissues.
UsesAdrenaline is used in the treatment of cardiac arrest, asthma, and in external bleeding. Cortisol is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

What is Adrenaline?

Adrenaline, which is known as epinephrine, is a hormone used in different types of medications. Adrenaline is produced in the medulla by the small number of neurons in a central nervous system.

As a hormonal component adrenaline plays an important role in the fight responses by increasing flow in blood stream to muscles and acts as a neurotransmitter, which helps in reflex actions during a fight or any stressful situation thus giving it an electromagnetic property.

In medical terms adrenaline; as a medication is used to treat different conditions, like cardiac arrest, external bleeding and it is also used in the treatment of asthma patients.

When adrenaline is released instantaneously, it is termed as an Adrenaline rush. It makes the heart beat faster in time and increases rapid blood flow in the brain and other muscles.

Adrenaline rush over time can cause health issues to our body, it can increase blood pressure and risk of heart attack, it can also result in sudden weight gain anxiety disorders and insomnia.

What is Cortisol?

Cortisol is a steroid hormone, which is further classified in the glucocorticoid class of Hormones. This hormone used in medication is termed as hydrocortisone. It is produced in the adrenal cortex in the adrenal gland. It is also produced in other tissues of the body but in smaller quantities.

Cortisol plays a large role in the metabolism of glucose. Cortisol promotes gluconeogenesis, which helps in the increase in the concentration of glucose in the blood and a further decrease in other tissues to insulin thus controlling this tissue from taking extra glucose from the blood.

Cortisol can reduce any kind of inflammation thus giving it an anti-inflammatory property. Cortisol is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, helps in controlling blood pressure by controlling salt and water balance in our body, it also helps in memory formation, control sleep cycle also helps in boosting energy, how to handle stress in difficult situations, and regulating metabolism for healthy well-being.

Excessive production of cortisol can cause some of the signs of Cushing’s syndrome, including the growth of cellulite between the shoulders, a rounded face, and possibly stretch marks on the skin. Cushing’s syndrome also brings about the chances of high blood pressure and bone loss and may also lead to type 2 diabetes.

Main Differences Between Adrenaline and Cortisol

  1. Adrenaline is produced in the medulla in the adrenal gland, which acts as a neurotransmitter whereas cortisol is produced in the cortex of the adrenal gland, which increases the sugar level in the bloodstreams.
  2. Adrenaline is also called the fight/flight hormone whereas cortisol is a steroid hormone.
  3. Adrenaline increases heart rate and works as neurotransmitter in stressful situations conversely cortisol increases blood sugar levels helping in repairing tissues.
  4. Adrenaline has electrochemical properties and cortisol is believed to be anti-inflammatory.
  5. Adrenaline is used in the treatment of asthma and cardiac arrest whereas is cortisol is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.


Even though both adrenaline and cortisol are hormones produced in the adrenal gland and are involved in the stress response process, they do differ in their way.

Sometimes the adrenal gland produces too much or insufficient hormones, which can lead to adrenal gland disorders, which can be serious but taking treatment at the right time can help people to live a healthy life.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128206492002618
  2. https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1113/jphysiol.1970.sp009071