Did you know that your vagus nerve helps you breathe and control your heart rate? If you want to learn about common vagus nerve issues, we’re here to help.
This guide will go over common vagus nerve issues people deal with throughout their lives. You’ll learn about signs of damage to your vagus nerve and when to seek medical help.
Ready to learn more? Keep reading.
What Is the Vagus Nerve?
Your vagus nerve, also called vagal nerves, are the primary nerves of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
The PNS will control body functions like heart rate, digestion, and immune system. These functions aren’t something you can consciously control.
The vagus nerve has two main bunches of sensory nerve cell bodies. It will connect your brainstem to the body, helping to monitor and receive information from your body.
It’s part of the circuit in your body that connects your lungs, heart, neck, and abdomen to your brain.
Normal Function of the Vagus Nerve
It’s normal to experience a fight or flight response when you’re stressed. The response prepares your body to run from danger. Your heart rate will increase, or your muscles tense. Some people find it harder to breathe.
Other minor changes occur. Digestion, saliva production, or gastrointestinal function slow down.
Your vagus nerve will help calm your body down and return it to homeostasis, known as a resting state. If your vagus nerve doesn’t function well, you might have difficulty returning to homeostasis.
Let’s look at common vagus nerve problems.
1. Damaged Vagus Nerve Leads to Gastroparesis
Some experts think the damage to a person’s vagus nerve can cause gastroparesis. This condition will affect the contractions in your digestive system.
Your damaged vagus nerve will prevent food from moving to your intestines from your stomach. Unfortunately, it will stop your stomach from emptying as it should.
You might deal with acid reflux, vomiting, loss of appetite, or abdominal pain.
2. You Might Develop a Fainting Condition Called Vasovagal Syncope
Some people will develop vasovagal syncope, a fainting condition. This is when your vagus nerve connecting to your heart overreacts. It might overreact if you’re anxious, hungry, stressed, or in pain.
What happens is that your blood pressure ends up dropping too fast, and you feel dizzy and faint. If you have begun dealing with fainting episodes, see your doctor.
3. Weight Gain or Obesity
Some studies have found links between decreased vagus nerve activity and obesity. The vagus nerve will help regulate glucose homeostasis and insulin secretion.
Also, the vagus nerve can transmit satiety signals from your gut to the brain. This will help people keep their appetite under control and prevent obesity.
What Treatments Are Available?
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is when a device is placed inside your body.
The device will use electrical impulses to help stimulate the nerve. Some people suffering from depression or epilepsy will try this form of treatment.
The device will get placed below the skin of your chest. A wire will connect to the left vagus nerve.
Once activated, the device will send signals through the nerve to your brain stem. It sends information to your brain. Neurologists will program the device.
VNS may treat conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, cluster headaches, or multiple sclerosis. Some people will get a handheld magnet and can control the device themselves. The research is ongoing.
You could also activate your vagus nerve. Learn more on vagal tone methods.
Are You Dealing With Vagus Nerve Problems?
We hope this guide on vagus nerve problems was insightful.
If you think you might have vagus nerve damage, consider contacting your doctor. Talk about the symptoms you’re experiencing, and possibly try out VNS as a treatment.
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