I had never heard of the Vagus Nerve, until I started getting symptoms of SupraVentricularTachycardia (SVT) – which you can read about here. And as I Googled, I kept coming across the Vagus Nerve (though there are two nerves, they’re always referred to in the singular for some reason.) These are cranial nerves that start in the brain and extend down into the stomach and beyond. They send branches into the heart (which explains the link with SVT), and various other organs, such as the lungs, along the way. They seem to be very important nerves, controlling a lot of the parasympathetic nervous system.
Dysfunction of the vagus nerve can lead to things such as gastroparesis, very low or very fast heart rates, blood pressure issues, fainting (vasovagal syncope – another contender for ‘V’ which I suffer from a lot!) and other issues linked to dysautonomia. And, as these conditions are often common in EDS, vagus nerve dysfunction may be an important feature in EDS, especially seeing as we’re prone to nerve damage due to weakness in supportive connective tissue.
This page explains the importance of the vagus nerve better than I can. It also mentions how vagus nerve stimulation is being explored as a treatment for epilepsy and depression, and how some feel it could also help with other illnesses such as migraines and fibromyalgia. While there has not been enough research on this yet, it is an exciting field of study.
So, there you have it. The Vagus Nerve. A very under appreciated nerve indeed!
[image of a purple background, with the words ‘V is for Vagus Nerve’ in white.]