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What Are the Causes of Vagus Nerve Damage?

The vagus nerve is one of 12 cranial nerves, exiting the skull rather than through the vertebral column. The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve 34. This nerve supplies motor nerve impulses to the muscles of the voice box and tongue, receiving sensory impulses from the throat, ear and the organs of the chest and abdomen, and supplying visceral nerve impulses to the glands of the throat, chest and abdominal organs.

Diabetes

In cases where diabetes has damaged the vagus nerve, it can cause gastroparesis, a condition wherein the muscles of the stomach and intestine are not able to efficiently move food through the gastrointestinal system 1. Gastroparesis manifests in symptoms such as:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • heartburn
  • constipation
  • abdominal bloat
  • stomach spasms
  • decreased appetite

Alcoholism

What Is Vagal Nerve Neuropathy?

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Chronic alcohol abuse is known to cause damage to nerves, a condition referred to as alcoholic neuropathy. Alcohol abuse has a dose-related toxic effect on the autonomic nervous system, of which the vagus nerve is a part. Abstaining from alcohol can reverse the damage to the vagus nerve.

Infection and Surgical Complications

Vagus nerve damage can occur following upper respiratory viral infections. These infections initially involved symptoms such as cough, nasal congestion and runny noses. Symptoms that persisted in patients identified as having post viral vagal neuropathy, or PVVN, included cough, throat clearing, difficulty speaking and vocal fatigue.include:

  • Symptoms that persisted in patients identified as having post viral vagal neuropathy
  • or PVVN
  • included cough
  • throat clearing
  • difficulty speaking
  • vocal fatigue
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