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Why Does Long COVID Have So Many Symptoms?

Updated: Sep 6, 2023


Hey everybody, Dr. Julie, here from McLaughlin care today, we're gonna talk about something, not so near and dear to my heart long COVID, I am a long COVID survivor and I'm happy to tell you. After 16 months, I feel that I'm fully recovered which is really good news because it gives others hope that their recovery can occur.

But I know there's millions of people that are still suffering. We're going to talk about the vagus nerve and the vagus nerve is super, super important because COVID affects this nerve and it causes a lot of dysfunction. And you're like, what the, what kind of nerve is the vagus nerve?

It is a nerve that runs from our brain, into our bodies, into our heart, our lungs, and our intestines, and several muscles. It affects swallowing. It affects your heart rate. It affects your speech, your gag reflexes, sweating, digestion, and they found studies that 66% of people with long COVID have at least one, if not three deficits in this nerve that are giving them symptoms. So that's a really big deal. You can see from my little diagram here, all the different organ systems that it affects, and those are the things that we're seeing just being affected by COVID.

What are we gonna do about it? How are we gonna help stimulate that vagus nerve to start working better so we can have a elimination of some of these symptoms? So I'm gonna give you a few things that you can do to help with this vagus nerve. Now I know the vagus nerve in my body has affected my lungs, my voice, it affected my stomach.

The first one is you're gonna breathe more slowly. You're gonna aim for six breaths a minute. And sometimes you can do that by box breathing where you're going to, inhale as you're going here, exhale, inhale, exhale as you're drawing a little box and it will slow you down. The other thing is I want you to deep breathe more deeply from the belly. Think about expanding your abdomen and widening your rib cage. As you inhale, that's gonna help stimulate the vagus nerve. The longer exhale you have is gonna trigger relaxation response.

Loud gargling with water and getting way back in your throat. Or loud singing and you don't have to do it around other people, you can do it in the car, but that's gonna activate our vocal chords, which in turn is gonna stimulate our vagus nerve. Foot massages, gentle or firm touch on the foot can stimulate the vagus nerve, cold water on your face or neck, or even submerging your face in a ice bath real quick, do at least your forehead, your eyes, your neck, and like at least two thirds of both cheeks in the water that will definitely elicit a vagus nerve response and it is gonna decrease your heart rate, going to stimulate your intestines, and it turns on your immune system.

Eating fiber is gonna help with the vagus nerve because it's going to have the brain slow those gut impulses down, and you're gonna feel fuller after. What about laughing? So if you can laugh, that's gonna obviously boost your mood, but it's also going to affect your immune system and it's gonna stimulate your vagus nerve.

And of course, chiropractic manipulation is always good for your nervous system. And so those are my tips on how to stimulate the vagus nerve to help recover from some of these long COVID symptoms. That's it for today. I'll see you soon.

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