The vagus nerve is one of 12 cranial nerves in the body. It’s responsible for various bodily functions, including digestion, heart rate, and breathing.
Some send sensory information, including details about smells, sights, tastes, and sounds, to the brain. These nerves have sensory functions. Other cranial nerves control the movement of various muscles and the function of certain glands. These are known as motor functions.
While some cranial nerves have either sensory or motor functions, others have both. The vagus nerve is such a nerve. The cranial nerves are classified using Roman numerals based on their location.
What does the vagus nerve affect?
The vagus nerve also called the pneumogastric nerve, is responsible for various internal organ functions, including:
- heart rate
- cardiovascular activity
- reflex actions, such as coughing, sneezing, swallowing, and vomiting
It plays a role in the autonomic nervous system, which controls actions people do unconsciously, such as breathing and digestion.
It may also form a link between the gut and the brain, playing a role in what scientists call the gut-brain axis. In recent years, experts have been studying the gut-brain axis to look for links between conditions such as obesity and depression..
The vagus nerve plays a role in many bodily functions, and it may form a link between areas such as the brain and the gut. Treatments that focus on the vagus nerve have proved to help people with epilepsy and depression, and it shows promise for rheumatoid arthritis, too.
Some experts believe that further research may offer clues to managing diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other conditions that involve inflammatory processes.
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