The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves. It extends from the brain stem, wanders through the mouth muscles, through the neck, thorax, lungs and abdomen. The vagus nerve conveys sensory information about the state of the body’s organs to the nerves system. It also transmits outgoing nerve impulses to create a reflex.
The vagus nerve helps to regulate the heartbeat, control muscle movement, keep a person breathing, and to transmit a variety of chemicals through the body. It is also responsible for keeping the digestive tract in working order, contracting the muscles of the stomach and intestines to help process food, and sending back information about what is being digested and what the body is getting out of it.
Damage to the Vagus nerve
Damage to the vagus nerve can result in trouble with moving the tongue while speaking, or hoarseness of the voice if the branch leading to the larynx is damaged.
Hearing loss may result from damage to the branch of the vagus nerve that innervates the concha of the ear.
Damage to the vagus nerve can cause cardiovascular side effects, including irregular heartbeat and arrhythmia.