Hypoglossal Nerve: What is it? Functions, Associated Diseases and Treatment

It belongs to the nerves or cranial nerves and has the XII position, therefore it is found in the right as well as in the left end of the brain.

He is mainly in charge of everything related to language, that is, he directs his movements so that he fulfills his assignments such as helping to swallow food, drink fluids prepared for hydration, refreshing or enjoyment, speaking fluently, among others.

This nerve is composed of the following parts:

  • Meningeal or recurrent bouquet.
  • Vascular branches.
  • Anastomotic branch corresponding to the plexiform ganglion found in the pneumogátrico.
  • Anastomotic branch corresponding to the lingual nerve.
  • Nervio del drahioideo.
  • Nerve of the hyoglossus and the styoglossus.
  • Genihyoid nerve.


Among the main functions of the hypoglossal nerve are being responsible for the execution of the fundamental movements of the language indicated by the brain through the needs of the human being, such as:

  • Command the movements necessary for speech diction.
  • To be the motor for the movements that the language must manage at the moment of chewing and ingesting food and drinks.
  • Help swallow saliva or medications.
  • Help to expel food or other things through spontaneous or induced vomiting.

In general lines, the hypoglossal nerve is one of the most important that the organism of the human being possesses, because without it, many of the activities carried out could not be fully fulfilled, which would hinder the process of verbal communication or feeding.

The hypoglossal nerve is also commonly considered to be the connector that exists or is located between the motor fibers in the body, which gives it an important role in the body.

Diseases of the hypoglossal nerve

This nerve can cause noticeable difficulties for the organism if it presents or is affected by any anomaly, disease or condition, as is the case of cerebrovascular accidents.

The strokes occur when blood circulation stops somewhere in the brain.

If this happens, the brain stops perceiving the nutrients and oxygen necessary for its proper functioning, causing the death of some cells and irreversible or permanent damage.

There are several types of stroke, for example:

  • Ischemic: occurs when a blood vessel is blocked by a blood clot, which can form in an artery that is very narrow and moves to the brain, which generates an embolism. It can also be generated by a substance called “plaque” that clogs the arteries.
  • Hemorrhagic: occurs when a part of the brain is weakened or a blood vessel breaks or deteriorates, which generates a blood spill inside the brain, such as aneurysms or arteriovenous malformations. They can also be presented by the ingestion of anticoagulants.

Among the risk factors that can induce a stroke are:

  • High blood pressure .
  • Irregular heart rate for prolonged periods.
  • Diabetes.
  • Obesity .
  • High cholesterol.
  • Advanced age.
  • Ethnic origin. Dark people tend to suffer more frequently from strokes.


Treatment for any type of brain condition should be prescribed by a specialist doctor to ensure the evolution and healing of the affected.

In some cases it is suggested the intake of medications and a series of physical therapies that will help improve physical conditions that could affect the diseases or in this case a stroke.

In most cases, patients tend to improve between 60% and 80%, everything depends on the severity and affected area. If the hypoglossal nerve is the one with anomalies, the doctor must perform a series of tests to determine the type of treatment.

But the sure thing is that the patient must exercise the face and the tongue with diverse methods to recover the correct movement of the language and thus achieve an evolution in the verbal communication and in the ingestion of foods.

According to some studies it has been determined that the index of people who have presented a condition in the hypoglossal nerve are men over 40 years old.

Therefore, it is suggested that from an early age the routine or custom of going to a routine consultation or medical check-up be acquired to prevent or control any disease that seriously affects the short or long term.