What is the vagus nerve and where is it located – HEROINE


The health and mood of a person depends on the state of the nervous system. If at least one part of it does not work properly, then the condition worsens and unpleasant symptoms appear. In the material we will tell you what will happen if the work of the vagus nerve is disrupted, what can affect it and whether it can be treated.

What is the vagus nerve and why is it needed

The vagus nerve or vagus is the main nerve of the parasympathetic system. It starts in the brain stem. Then it is divided into two parts – left and right, respectively, the side of the body where it is located, and passes through the neck and chest. Below the esophagus, the two sides join again to form a vagus trunk that descends into the abdomen and then branches again.
nervus vagus

The branches of the vagus nerve transmit different signals to specific areas of the body. The lower branch of the ganglion is responsible for the vocal apparatus and throat, the upper one is connected to the spine and ears and transmits nerve impulses to them. The vagus nerve trunk delivers signals to the esophagus, heart, and lungs.

The vagus nerve is the longest in the human body. It runs almost throughout the body and is involved in involuntary sensory and motor functions. For example, heartbeat, digestion, respiration, immune reactions, saliva production, skin and muscle sensations. It is also involved in changes in mood, speech, sense of taste.

The parasympathetic system, of which the vagus nerve is a part, plays an important role in the process of getting rid of stress. It is activated after the sympathetic system has triggered the “fight or flight” response in the body, a defense mechanism that is activated in case of danger. This happens in seconds.

And the parasympathetic system “turns on” much longer, which is necessary in order to relax and calm down after the stress reaction has ended. With the help of the vagus nerve, the brain notices that the heart rate or breathing rate has increased, which starts a gradual process of relaxation.

Why the vagus may not work properly

The work of the vagus nerve can be disrupted for various reasons. Most often, this is facilitated by damage to the nervous tissue, compression of the nerve due to tumors and injuries.

Often, people with impaired cerebral circulation, atherosclerosis, neuralgia, tumors, neuritis, and diabetes mellitus experience signs of problems with the vagus nerve. Symptoms may also appear after exposure to chemicals such as lead and arsenic.

The work of the vagus nerve can also be disrupted by the abuse of alcohol, the substances of which have a negative effect on the nervous system. In autoimmune diseases, it also often does not work properly, as they affect both the nervous and immune systems of the body.

What happens when the vagus nerve is disrupted

A malfunctioning vagus nerve can cause both mild discomfort and serious health problems.
nervus vagus

When the vagus nerve is damaged, digestive problems appear, for example, gastroparesis. This is a chronic disease in which food stops passing through the digestive system normally, resulting in abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and stool problems. This is due to the fact that the vagus nerve is involved in the processes of perylstatics of the gastrointestinal tract. If it is damaged, signals to the organs are not sent correctly or in full, which leads to unpleasant sensations from the gastrointestinal tract – cramps, pain, diarrhea.

Also, according to a study conducted in the Netherlands in 2011, improper functioning of the vagus nerve can cause chronic inflammatory processes in the body. The fact is that his work largely affects the proper functioning of the immune system. Accordingly, due to a malfunction of the vagus nerve, the immune response is weak, which leads to inflammation.

Also, due to vagus nerve dysfunction, some people become prone to fainting. They come from overheating, with physical or emotional stress. The vagus nerve overreacts to physical factors such as rapid heart rate or breathing, causing blood pressure to drop rapidly, resulting in dizziness or fainting.

How to understand that the vagus is not in order

Unfortunately, the signs of a malfunctioning vagus nerve are in many ways similar to the symptoms of various other diseases, which makes it difficult to make a diagnosis. They also depend on whether his activity is oppressed or, conversely, too active.

On the part of the cardiovascular system, the main signs of problems with the vagus nerve include heart rhythm disturbances, a decrease or increase in blood pressure, pain affecting the area around the heart.
nervus vagus

Also, symptoms occur in the digestive system. They are expressed in stool disorders, the appearance of pain in the abdomen, the sensation of a lump in the throat, frequent hiccups, and dysphagia – a condition when it is difficult for a person to swallow.

The main signs of the nervous system are manifested as frequent dizziness, sudden onset headache, hearing loss, irritability and anxiety, as well as weakness.

Violation of the vagus nerve can be expressed in difficulty breathing, the appearance of an unreasonable cough, pain in the larynx. In some cases, this leads to dysphonia – an increase in the tone of the muscles of the larynx, due to which the voice becomes hoarse or very quiet.

What to do if the vagus nerve is not working properly

If you notice symptoms of a malfunction of the vagus nerve, you should not put off going to the doctor. The doctor will prescribe one of the diagnostic methods: CT or MRI, an echocardiogram, or additional studies to rule out a situation where signs and symptoms appear due to concomitant diseases.

Symptomatic treatment is to reduce discomfort and restore lost body functions. What drugs are used for it depends on what signs cause the disruption of the vagus nerve. Often prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, B vitamins, sedatives.

Also, treatment methods include the use of a special device called a vagus nerve stimulator. Often it is used for epilepsy.

The device is implanted under the skin in the area of ​​​​the armpit or collarbone using a simple surgical intervention. The impulses it sends go to the left vagus nerve, which runs in the neck. The stimulation parameters are adjusted by the doctor depending on the severity of the condition and the tasks that need to be achieved by treatment.

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