Long COVID is a potentially debilitating disease that affects an estimated 10-15% of COVID-19 survivors.
New research suggests that COVID-19 may have negative effects on the vagus nerve, producing persistent speech issues, dizziness, and low blood pressure in those who have had long-term symptoms.
Your brain, heart, lungs, and digestive system all receive impulses from the vague nerve. It’s your body’s longest cranial nerve, stretching from your brain to your large intestine.
The vagus nerve regulates involuntary sensory and motor activities such as heart rate, speech, mood, and urine production. It assists your body in switching between the fight-or-flight reaction and the parasympathetic phase, which is more relaxed.
However, stress or infection with SARS-COV-2, as revealed by a recent study, can cause your vagus nerve to lose its ability to transition back to parasympathetic mode. High blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, depression, and anxiety are all risks associated with vagus nerve dysfunction (VND).
However, you may naturally strengthen your vagus nerve in other ways if you want to improve your long-term COVID-induced diabetes, depression, and brain damage, as well as your overall health.
Can Meditation help treat long COVID-induced symptoms?
Use this technique to help you relax and focus on deep breathing. Extend your exhales, making them longer than your inhales, while meditating. This will assist in lowering your heart rate.
“Meditation can regulate your autonomic nervous system,” says Headache and facial pain specialist Emad Estemalik from Cleveland Clinic. “It has a good effect on lowering rapid breathing, rapid heart rate and cortisol levels.”
For the same reasons, yoga can be beneficial. Just remember to keep an eye on your respiration.
How Exercise may help treat long COVID symptoms
According to a study, working out and getting your body moving can have an impact on your vagus nerve. Interval training and endurance training can improve heart rate variability and boost vagus nerve activity.
“Exercise lowers your sympathetic nervous activity and controls your parasympathetic response so that you have a good balance when it comes to your cardiovascular and respiratory function,” adds Dr. Estemalik.
Reflexology (a type of massage) has been shown in studies to boost vagal tone and even lower blood pressure.
“Massage can reduce some of the heightened activity in the vagus nerve,” says the specialist.
Music may inspire us, bring us joy, and help us express our feelings. When it comes to how music affects the vagus nerve, the evidence is conflicting.
The vagus nerve runs through your inner ear and is related to your vocal cords and the muscles at the back of your throat.
Try humming, singing, or simply listening to relaxing music. Your vagus nerve may be stimulated by those sounds and vibrations.
You may have recently seen a well-known lawmaker test this idea on Instagram Live by dipping her head in an ice water basin to help de-stress.
Cold-water immersion is also used by many elite athletes to increase short-term feelings of relaxation.
Cold-water immersion has been shown to reduce stress by decreasing the heart rate and directing blood flow to the brain. Take a cold shower or apply an ice pack to your face or neck.
Perks of Strengthening Your Vagus Nerve
Your vagus nerve has a number of effects on your mental and physical wellness. It can help with the following by using VNS or a noninvasive technique to activate your vagus nerve:
- Minimize seizures in those with epilepsy.
- Treat depression.
- Regulate your emotions.
- Reduce blood pressure.
- Lower your heart rate.
- Reduce inflammation.
- Treat migraines and cluster headaches.
The vagus nerve is an important part of your body. Maintaining the strength and balance of your vagus nerve can help you respond more effectively to a wide range of emotional and physiological problems.
“You want to have balance,” says Dr. Estemalik. “That means you’re neither having a fast-beating heart nor a slow-beating heart. It’s all about regulating your cardiovascular and respiratory functions.”
Image Credit: Getty