The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve, and it is the longest and most complex among them. The heart, lungs, intestines, and various muscles involved in swallowing are all connected to the vagus nerve, which flows from the brain into the body. It regulates heart rate, speech, the gag reflex, perspiration, and digestion among other bodily activities.
New research from Israel has just confirmed that the confusing long-COVID phenomenon, which has caused so much flurry around the world, might be caused by damage to one of the most powerful nerves in the human body, ZeroHedge reported.
As the nerve controls the gastrointestinal system, as well as the face and chest, treating nerve injury will be critical.
The connection between post-COVID syndrome, also known as protracted COVID, and the vagus nerve is the subject of new research to be presented at this year’s European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Gemma Lladós and Dr. Lourdes Mateu of the Germans Trias I Pujol University Hospital Badalona, Spain, co-authored the ‘pilot study,’ and the results will be presented during the congress, which will take place in Lisbon from April 23 to 26.
Many of the symptoms of protracted COVID, including chronic voice problems, difficulty swallowing, vertigo, unusually fast heart rate – aka tachycardia – low blood pressure, and digestive issues, may be caused by vagus nerve injury produced by SARS-CoV-2 malfunction, according to the study.
Long COVID is marked by the persistent COVID-19-related health issues after the patient has recovered from its infections. It has the capacity to affect almost every organ in the body, as well as cause a wide range of mental and nervous system disorders.
Fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath, loss of smell and taste, and muscle weakness are some of the most prevalent symptoms of extended COVID, Jerusalem Post reported.
In a study of long COVID patients with one or more signs of vagus nerve damage, the researchers used imaging and functional testing, as well as a morphological and functional evaluation of the vagus nerve damage (VND), in order to better understand the phenomena.
Two-thirds of the 348 participants showed at least one symptom of VND in addition to their long COVID symptoms. After initial examinations, a test group was created of 22 patients with VND symptoms and they were evaluated further.
Diarrhea (73% of respondents), tachycardia (59%), dizziness, trouble swallowing, and vocal issues were the most common VND symptoms (45% each). Low blood pressure was also a problem for 14% of the individuals.
In total, 86% of the individuals evaluated experienced at least three VND-related symptoms.
While the discoveries were groundbreaking, opening up a new line of inquiry for experts both inside and outside Israel, the mechanisms underlying vagus nerve damage remain unknown.
As the specific origin of extended COVID is unknown, and the reason why symptoms vary so for each patient, the study’s findings could have a serious impact on future research and treatment of the disorder.
Given the widespread occurrence of protracted COVID, this innovation will undoubtedly be remembered as a boon to both researchers and patients.