The Vagus Nerve: Definition, Function, and Symptoms of Its Damage – Nona Woman
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The Vagus Nerve: Definition, Function, and Symptoms of Its Damage

The head is the control center of the human body. Inside the head itself is the brain that plays an important role in controlling all the nerves in the human body. There are 12 cranial nerves in the brain that have various roles in the human body, such as recognizing other people's faces, smelling food, and others. These nerves are small in size, but their role is very important for the survival of everyday human life.

Some of the nerves listed in order: olfactory, optic, oculomotor, trochlear, trigeminal, abducens, facial, vestibulocochlear, glossopharyngeal, vagus, accessory, and hypoglossal nerves. This article will discuss more deeply about the tenth nerve, namely the vagus nerve, which is the most complex cranial nerve. We will discuss the meaning, function, and symptoms of damage to the vagus nerve.


What is the Vagus Nerve?

The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve that connects the brain with other parts of the body. The word "vagus" itself comes from the Latin word meaning "wandering". This is because the vagus nerve itself wanders from the brain to other body organs, such as the neck, chest, and stomach. The vagus nerve has a long pathway, from the head to the abdomen.

You could say that the vagus nerve is a crucial and complex nerve. This is because the vagus nerve helps regulate many important aspects of the human body, such as blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, sweating, and speech.

The vagus nerve has two bundles of sensory nerve cell bodies and connects the brainstem to the body. This process allows the brain to monitor and receive all information regarding bodily functions. In addition, the vagus nerve also plays an important role in the function of the autonomic nerve, where this nerve consists of two parts: parasympathetic and sympathetic. These nerves have an important role in several sensory activities and motor information for movement in the body. The trick is to involve the release of hormones, thus making the body carry out its functions to survive.


Vagus Nerve Function

As explained above, the vagus nerve is a crucial and complex nerve because the vagus nerve plays a role in regulating many aspects of the human body. There are many functions of the vagus nerve in the human body. Some of the functions of the vagus nerve are to move the motor movement of organs:

  • Speaking
  • Adjusting vocal cord movement
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Digestive, such as intestines and stomach
  • Sweating
  • Muscle and gland control
  • Stimulating endocrine glands that produce hormones that can support the body's metabolism

Symptoms of Vagus Nerve Disorder

The presence of several health problems can cause the occurrence of disorders of the vagus nerve. This disorder will affect nerve function and cause damage to nerve fibers. The damage will result in inflammation, infection or neoplastic causing abnormal vagus nerve activity.

There are several symptoms that you can feel if you have a vagus nerve disorder:

  1. Pain
    When there is a problem with the vagus nerve, the most common symptom is pain. This pain occurs due to mechanical stress, trauma or injury that causes inflammation and swelling.
  2. Muscle Cramps
    The muscle supplies the vagus nerve which originates from the vocal cords. If there is a problem with the vagus nerve, the muscular system on the vocal cords will also have problems. These disorders can cause muscle cramps that affect the voice and breathing. This disorder not only interferes with the muscles on the vocal cords, but also interferes with other muscles provided by the vagus nerve.
  3. Organ Dysfunction
    Another symptom of vagus nerve disorders is the occurrence of organ dysfunction or organs that cannot perform their functions properly. Symptoms of dysfunction of this organ can be caused by damage to nerve fibers or differences in the synthesis of neurotransmitters.
  4. Faint
    Disorders of the vagus nerve can also cause the sufferer to faint. This is due to overactivity of the vagus nerve, resulting in an increased rate of receptor firing. This burning can cause “vasovagal,” which is when the sufferer faints suddenly. This sudden fainting is not something to worry about; however, this symptom can increase the risk of accidental injury, which can be life threatening.
  5. Gastroparesis
    One of the other symptoms of vagus nerve disorders is gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a disorder that occurs in the stomach muscles, causing the slowing of gastric movement to push food into the intestines. Signs of gastroparesis include nausea, vomiting, and drastic weight loss.

Those are some brief explanations about the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a crucial nerve and has an important role in controlling our organs. For this reason, if you feel that you have symptoms of a vagus nerve disorder, immediately consult a doctor to get fast and appropriate treatment.

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