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Vagus Nerve
Registered: 09-07-2009
Posts: 13
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My father has been recently Dx with diabetic gastroparesis (Lazy Stomach) as a result of nerve damage from years of elevated blood sugar levels. Gastroparesis also called delayed gastric emptying, is a disorder in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents. Gastroparesis occurs when the vagus nerve is damaged and the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work normally. Food then moves slowly or stops moving through the digestive tract.

So it got me to thinking about KD how some of us suffer from GERD or aspirating reflux problems while sleeping. Thus I decided to do some research on the vagus nerve and what happens when its damaged.

The vagus nerve extends down below the head, to the neck, chest and abdomen, where it contributes to the innervation of the viscera (internal organs). Besides output to the various organs in the body the vagus nerve conveys sensory information about the state of the body's organs to the central nervous system. 80-90% of the nerve fibers in the vagus nerve are sensory nerves communicating the state of the viscera to the brain.

Damage to the vagus nerve can cause hoarse voice, difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) and choking when drinking fluid. There is also loss of gag reflex. The vagus nerve participates in many reflex acts (swallowing, coughing, vomiting, filling and emptying of the stomach) and in regulation of the heartbeat and breathing. It is also part of the solar plexus. Injury to the motor nuclei of the vagus nerve impairs swallowing, phonation, articulation, and respiration—that is, the so-called ‘bulbar disturbances’.

Also, the muscles of the bladder are innervated by the vagus nerve, and damage to the vagus nerve may cause urinary incontinence. There are varying types of incontinence, but ‘effort’ incontinence is due essentially to insufficient strength of the pelvic floor muscles either through a loss of sensation or muscle control. And as was mentioned in earlier post on this forum, laryngospasm is a protective reflex mediated by the vagus nerve, and any damage or interruption can cause great discomfort and distress to breathing.

Additionally, excessive yawning is also due to a vasovagal reaction, which is when the vagus nerve is stimulated. Excessive yawning can sometimes be a symptom of generalized anxiety, but it is also associated with several physical illnesses related to MND/ALS. Most medical disorders that are associated with yawning involve the central nervous system.

After having researched just a bit on the vagus nerve it’s given me a new found perspective concerning the cause of some of my KD symptoms.
Registered: 01-08-2013
Posts: 61
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Thanks for that Fisher, it seems that the Vagus nerve is involved with my most troubling symptoms, and wasn't even considered until brought up by a speech therapist. I had to quit work due to unexplained 'dizzy' spells (the fatigue and cramps I was dealing with) which were related to physical activity while being bent over; and have had intermittant chest wall and sternum pain for years. (I also have dysphagia and GERD it seems and central sleep apnea)
Your observations deserve further clinical research. It may not be related to 'a cure' but from my experience, bringing Vagus nerve effects to the attention of clinitians and researchers may dramatically improve the quality of life for KD sufferers
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