What happens in Vegas, I mean Vagus.
The Vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the cranium, making it's job a heavy one. The nerve runs through the brainstem to the organs of the chest + abdomen, sending and receiving vital information to control the functioning of the digestive system, heart, lungs, spleen, liver, gallbladder, and glands.
As you can see, this is a pretty important part of the functionality of your body. Now imagine if you lost function of the Vagus nerve; that would make living a task in itself, right? This is Gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is the result of a damaged vagus nerve.
So why do we focus so heavily on the stomach when Gastroparesis has to do with so many other organs? Many aspects of digestion are controlled by the vagus nerve. It is first stimulated by the smell, sight, and taste of the food as it enters the mouth, setting in motion the release of stomach acids and digestive juices. Branches of the nerve influence swallowing, while others control peristalsis, (the contraction of muscles in the digestive system that move food along). Gastroparesis makes it to where you can't digest food, letting it sit in your stomach long enough to ferment (or even create rocks in your belly); even excretion of wastes is influenced by the branches of the nerve that reach the colon and kidneys. Damage to your kidneys, reoccurring infections and kidney problems are common because of this.
Heart rate and blood pressure are influenced by the nerve. As part of the parasympathetic nervous system, its effects are to lower the heart rate. In the lungs, the vagus nerve acts to constrict by causing the muscles to tighten. A branch of the nerve controls the muscles that move the vocal folds, and damage to it can cause hoarseness or other voice changes. With a high resting heart rate and low blood pressure, it can cause your heart to overwork and in result, cause you to pass out because of the lack of blood going to your head (as I experience often).
The Vagus Nerve influences the ovaries as well (I know, what else!?) creating issues such as PCOS, or ovarian cysts, hormone imbalances, and more. The parasympathetic fibers in the ovarian plexus are derived from the Vagus nerves.
Understanding the Vagus nerve has really helped me grasp what and why my body is reacting the way it is. Rather than being fearful of the reactions, let the knowledge help you feel closer to your body.
You're not alone.
They say what happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas. But what happens in Vagus sticks with you.
My experience: I have a high resting heart rate with low blood pressure, resulting in frequent black outs. I have poly-cystic ovaries (meaning the follicles are being plugged by cysts, making my chances of having kids very low, and the pain very high). I have esophagitus, which is just a fancy word for saying my throat is swollen and inflamed due to the Gastroparesis. I get kidney infections nearly monthly, had my gallbladder removed, and of course, eating is not enjoyable. (You can read more about my Gastroparesis symptoms and experience in the gastroparesis tab.)