Well, I know some of you are waiting to hear what I have to say about the Vagus Nerve. A little backstory:
I have been having a host of symptoms since my dad died in June, which got much worse a bit before Thanksgiving. Neck problems, headaches, acid reflux (stomach pain not new to me, but actual reflux was), pain on swallowing, feeling of something stuck, indigestion, things weren’t moving through my system, back pain, a bit of dizziness, hoarseness, I couldn’t sing right anymore, tightness in my throat, and some other things I’ll tell you as I go. Oh, anxiety off the charts.
My GP ordered a thyroid scan since I have Hashimotos thyroiditis (until now my only major diagnosis and the only pill I take), some blood work, an x-ray of my back and I went to a gastro guy who said he wanted me to take famotidine for three months and see how I was. I couldn’t imagine all this could be connected and figured they might as well just shoot me–I was falling apart.
I was sleeping on big pillows and not eating close to bedtime.
My GP also ordered physical therapy for my neck and back before insurance would cover an MRI of my back and neck. So off I went, not holding out much hope. She thought I was having some disk problem and some pinched nerve since I was a lot weaker on my left side so we started in on exercises and the technician started working on my neck and back. Almost immediately my neck and headaches felt better. And along the way the tech mentioned the vagus nerve. I was mostly thinking it was having to do with a pinched nerve in my back, but as I was researching acid reflux, there it was showing up.
Hmm, I said to myself (I often say HMMMM to myself, don’t worry, I also have big conversations with myself and my dead mother and grandmother, it’s fine.)
Anyway, that sounded different than I was thinking of it, so I started researching the vagus nerve. Come to find out, this nerve goes from your neck and affects much of your health. Interestingly, when not “toned,” it can cause hoarseness, lack of gag reflex, acid reflux (it involves both stomach valves, one in your throat/neck and one where stomach dumps into small intestine which gets stuck open or closed), migraine headaches, IBD, (more serious colitis issues I have been blessed not to have), but general gut issues. Bloating and problems eating because of feeling full. It also affects the heart and suddenly in the last four months or so my resting heart rate had dropped to 58-59 when it had always been about 70.
So what causes the vagus nerve to go haywire? Well, two big things that affected me (you can read the other things in the link I provide): viruses (I had Shingles about a year ago but they think Covid may also do this) and stress, PTSD sort of things, well and age. Of course, I’m old, too. So three things. Caring for my dad and doing the Hospice thing here which went on over three years (he died in June) qualifies me for all that.
But some people faint (I had been dizzy but no fainting or vomiting), blurred vision (I have an appointment in March because I suddenly couldn’t see).
So some people have to have neurosurgery to correct this, but some of the things are things that you can do at home:
SING: I had not been singing the last three years since taking care of my dad –when I sang almost every day along with the radio or to myself. If you’re not a singer, you can hum or gargle (imagine such a thing).
Exercise and a good diet (I had been slightly lax on both lately). I have done a much better job in the last few weeks.
Massage (something I was suddenly getting) and was helping in a big way (I get three months of PT)
Meditation and yoga (something I had also become a bit lax on).
Cold water/ice therapy (not something I would normally do)–cold showers or ice cubes on chest. Have tried some ice on the chest.
I know. It sounds like one of those deals that isn’t real — or they can’t prove– but apparently not the case with this one. Cleveland Clinic and other places seem to recognize it unlike Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, etc. This gag reflex seems to be how they often diagnose it. And it appears like it’s something one must protect in their health regimens. And they’ve known a while now that there is a gut/brain connection.
They think this vagus nerve thing is tied to Alzheimers and Parkinsons and autoimmune issues (my dad had swallowing problems. My mother did as well).
And some of it makes sense: laugh, make a joyful noise, eat well, exercise, get massaged, meditate, eat well. This site below is pretty good. Others get into more organ involvement and eyesight, etc.
So anyway, there you have it–might help someone else besides me. Happy Friday — make a joyful noise or you might be losing more than your singing voice.
8 thoughts on “Carnivore Dreams – Vagus Nerve”
Thanks for sharing this info, Lynn.
Actually, I DID find that interesting! Something for me to be aware of.
OH, have you tried apple cider vinegar for reflux? It cleared mine up! I used to have this swallowing issue where I felt like I always had to do it so the doc diagnosed reflux, take Zantac. But those drugs just make it worse. I tsp lemon juice (we use fancy volcanic kind from Amazon) , two tsp acv, put in shot glass and fill rest with cold water. I took it twice a day for a while now, just once in the am.
Well, I might give it a try. Going to talk to my GI guy about the vagus nerve and a hiatal hernia. I suspect he’ll take a look in there soon. But will try it!
I’m so glad I went back and read this post! I struggle with some of these, and my husband ALL of them. He has dystonia and TBI (among some other chronic conditions) which appear to be devolving into something that looks worryingly like Parkinson’s, but his doctor hasn’t said that, so we just keep moving forward.
It’s heartening to hear that you’re having some success with therapy. I read too many horror stories about the recent decline in medical care to have any faith—but perhaps I’ve been too cynical (me, cynical? 😂).
Well, they think Parkinson’s people definitely have some kind of vagus nerve involvement. There are some home electrical stimulation you can try. TENS 7000 and stuff. I may try it.
We have a TENS unit! Where would one put it to stimulate the vagus nerve? Do you have any particularly handy links?
My poor man is desperate—he’s willing to try anything.
Wow. Really good information. The 3 d image was amazing. Thank you for sharing .