Eagle Syndrome - Online Support Group

Post op issues - related to ES?

Hi all.
As most of you know I am now 3-weeks post op. I am having some issues now post op that I did not have before the surgery and some issues that I had years before the surgery but had been under control.

My heart has an occasional strange beat that is very noticeable. It wakes me up. I also feel it during the day. I did not have this before the surgery. I don’t believe its brought on by anxiety but it can certainly raise my anxiety. I was at the docs last week and the ekg showed some abnormalities but not an extra or skipped beat. My doc was concerned but compared it to last year’s which seemed to be the same so he said its my ‘normal.’ Maybe the ekg didnt capture the strange. My ekg right before the surgery at the hospital did not raise any alarms. I also have shortness of breath - or what feels like the inability to completely exhale before my body inhales again. I did not have this before the surgery.

My doc says its related to GERD which is putting pressure on my diaphragm. I had GERD issues over a year ago but had that completely under control without medication.

I guess I am reaching out here to know if these symptoms are consistent with the vagus nerve being disturbed during surgery. It makes sense given that it happened after the surgery. Also, maybe my GERD was caused by ES, but because ES symptoms change and come and go maybe now my GERD is now back from the nerve disruption.

Now I feel that I’m back on the roller coaster to try to figure this out. I feel like the surgery has opened Pandora’s box - fixed one thing but now has caused other issues. I have an appointment with a cardiologist but that is weeks out.


Hi, so sorry to hear you feel like you are on another goose chase on top of healing from surgery!

The anatomy of the vagus nerve is very diverse and complex. Just the proximity of where the vagus nerve exits the skull to the styloid high at it’s attachment and along its course in the neck gives you an absolute yes to wondering if it could be related to your current symptoms due to operative swelling and irritation from changing your anatomy. To list a few, the vagus nerve has a direct relationship to heart rate, respiratory rate(breathing cadence), blood pressure, gastrointestinal (GI) regulation and more indirectly to body temperature regulation. Pressure to this nerve can produce chest pain/pressure, irregular heart beats (arrhythmia), GERD like symptoms/intestine dysregulation (constipation/diarrhea fluctuations), urinary tract dysfunction/pelvic pain…many problems of which I have only listed a few. It is also deeply rooted in your parasympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) so stress/anxiety is a player as well. I think this is what scares many doctors away from this as a cause…so many possibilities. Hope this is helpful.

It is so scary to feel your heart not beating normally. Give this vagus nerve thought a good bit of discussion time with your cardiologist. Hopefully he/she will listen intently and give you proper guidance!


Thank you for your input and advice.

I’m a just a bundle of nerves in too many ways. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I totally second what JustBreathe has told you. Many doctors are uninformed or underestimate the part our cranial nerves play in so many bodily functions. I just advised another forum member who’s having heart rate issues to talk to her cardiologist about vagus nerve involvement if her cardio tests came up clear. Hopefully she did & he was receptive to her thoughts.

You are still early in your recovery. I had vagus nerve symptoms prior to my surgery (heart palpitations & shortness of breath among other things), & they did not go away until a good 2-3 months post op. I suspect with time, what you’re experiencing now will subside. I also think that what you suggested about your previous GERD & heart symptoms possibly being related to ES is correct. My early ES symptoms began w/ choking on food. I’ve never had a problem w/ swallowing then one day I needed to have the Heimlich maneuver done. It was horrible! It happened a second time a couple of weeks later. It was several years before other more explicitly ES symptoms began, & I was diagnosed. All this to say - your GERD & early heart rate issues could have been the warning signs of what you later learned was ES.

Following up w/ your cardiologist is a good idea. Just try not to stress too much about it in the meantime - as you mentioned - that will likely exacerbate the problems.


Thank you Isaiah for your informative words. Its hard not to freak out with heart issues, but this supportive site has helped tremendously.


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Hi JustBreathe -

I would like to add one more symptom to the vagus nerve list - vocal loss. The vagus nerve also at least partially innervates the vocal cords thus vocal loss from ES is often associated w/ vagus nerve irritation or damage.

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Is there anything that this nerve cant do? Makes other nerves jealous.


You are not alone there my friend - we all are :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Yes, the list is very very long - fluctuation/loss of voice, difficulty swallowing (delayed pharyngeal reflex seen with modified barium swallow testing), etc…such a fascinating nerve with fingers in nearly everything! Very cool…that is until it decides to go on vacation or go ballistic :neutral_face::no_mouth::upside_down_face: