Hypoglossal Nerve Neuroglia

In this guide, we’ll delve into the world of the hypoglossal nerve and neuroglia, exploring their functions, common issues, symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, medications, surgeries, preventions, and when to seek medical attention. We’ll break down complex medical jargon into plain English, making it easier to understand for everyone.

The hypoglossal nerve is a crucial nerve responsible for controlling the movement of the tongue. It originates from the brainstem and travels to the tongue, enabling essential functions like speech, swallowing, and chewing. Neuroglia, also known as glial cells, are support cells in the nervous system.

They provide structural support, insulation, and nutrients to neurons, aiding in their proper functioning. Neuroglia include several types such as astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, microglia, and ependymal cells.

Causes of Hypoglossal Nerve Issues:

  1. Trauma: Injuries to the head or neck region can damage the hypoglossal nerve.
  2. Infections: Certain infections like meningitis can affect the nerve.
  3. Tumors: Growths in the brain or along the nerve pathway may compress the hypoglossal nerve.
  4. Stroke: Reduced blood flow to the brain can lead to nerve damage.
  5. Inflammatory Conditions: Conditions like Guillain-Barré syndrome can target nerves.
  6. Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to nerve damage (neuropathy).
  7. Autoimmune Disorders: Conditions where the immune system attacks the body’s tissues may affect nerves.
  8. Genetic Factors: Some individuals may have congenital abnormalities affecting the hypoglossal nerve.
  9. Toxic Exposure: Certain toxins can damage nerves.
  10. Surgical Complications: Procedures involving the head or neck may inadvertently damage the nerve.

Symptoms of Hypoglossal Nerve Issues:

  1. Tongue Weakness: Difficulty moving the tongue in various directions.
  2. Speech Impairment: Slurred speech or difficulty pronouncing certain sounds.
  3. Swallowing Difficulties: Trouble with chewing and swallowing food.
  4. Tongue Deviation: The tongue may drift to one side when extended.
  5. Tongue Atrophy: Loss of muscle mass in the tongue.
  6. Difficulty Eating: Trouble manipulating food in the mouth.
  7. Jaw Pain: Discomfort or pain around the jaw area.
  8. Changes in Taste: Alterations in the perception of taste.
  9. Drooling: Involuntary saliva leakage from the mouth.
  10. Sleep Apnea: Interruptions in breathing during sleep.

Diagnostic Tests for Hypoglossal Nerve Issues:

  1. Medical History: A detailed account of symptoms, medical conditions, and past surgeries.
  2. Physical Examination: Assessment of tongue movement, strength, and reflexes.
  3. Electromyography (EMG): Measures electrical activity in muscles, helping diagnose nerve damage.
  4. Nerve Conduction Studies: Evaluates the speed and strength of nerve signals.
  5. Imaging Tests: MRI or CT scans can detect abnormalities in the brain or neck region.
  6. Swallowing Studies: Assess swallowing function using contrast materials and X-rays.
  7. Blood Tests: To check for underlying conditions like diabetes or infections.
  8. Lumbar Puncture: Collects cerebrospinal fluid to check for infections or inflammation.
  9. Biopsy: Removal of a small tissue sample for examination, usually in cases of suspected tumors.
  10. Sleep Studies: Monitoring breathing patterns during sleep to diagnose sleep apnea.

Treatments for Hypoglossal Nerve Issues (Non-pharmacological):

  1. Speech Therapy: Exercises to improve tongue strength and coordination.
  2. Swallowing Therapy: Techniques to enhance swallowing function.
  3. Dietary Modifications: Soft or pureed foods to ease swallowing.
  4. Oral Appliances: Devices to aid in breathing during sleep apnea.
  5. Positional Therapy: Adjusting sleeping positions to reduce apnea episodes.
  6. Weight Management: Losing excess weight can alleviate pressure on the airways.
  7. Oral Hygiene: Maintaining good oral care to prevent infections.
  8. Stress Management: Stress-reducing techniques to minimize exacerbations of symptoms.
  9. Physical Therapy: Exercises to improve overall strength and coordination.
  10. Lifestyle Changes: Avoiding alcohol and tobacco which can worsen symptoms.

Drugs for Hypoglossal Nerve Issues:

  1. Muscle Relaxants: To reduce muscle stiffness and spasticity.
  2. Pain Relievers: For alleviating discomfort or neuropathic pain.
  3. Anti-inflammatory Drugs: To reduce inflammation around nerves.
  4. Antibiotics: If the issue is caused by an infection.
  5. Anticonvulsants: To control seizures if present.
  6. Antidepressants: For managing associated depression or anxiety.
  7. Stimulants: To improve wakefulness in cases of excessive daytime sleepiness.
  8. Saliva Substitutes: For managing dry mouth.
  9. Anti-reflux Medications: To reduce acid reflux and prevent irritation to the throat.
  10. Stimulant Medications: To improve alertness and reduce fatigue.

Surgeries for Hypoglossal Nerve Issues:

  1. Nerve Repair: Surgical repair of damaged nerves.
  2. Nerve Grafting: Transplanting healthy nerves to replace damaged ones.
  3. Tumor Removal: Surgical excision of tumors pressing on the nerve.
  4. Tracheostomy: Creating a hole in the windpipe to bypass upper airway obstructions.
  5. Tongue Base Reduction: Reducing the size of the base of the tongue to alleviate obstruction.
  6. Genioglossus Advancement: Advancing the tongue muscle forward to prevent collapse.
  7. Palatopharyngoplasty: Surgical tightening of tissues in the throat to reduce obstruction.
  8. Hyoid Suspension: Lifting and securing the hyoid bone to prevent airway collapse.
  9. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): Removal of excess tissue in the throat to widen the airway.
  10. Mandibular Advancement Surgery: Advancing the lower jaw to open the airway.


  1. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet.
  2. Avoid Smoking: Smoking can damage nerves and worsen symptoms.
  3. Manage Chronic Conditions: Keep conditions like diabetes under control.
  4. Use Protective Gear: Wear helmets during activities that pose a risk of head injury.
  5. Practice Good Posture: Avoid positions that strain the neck or back.
  6. Limit Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol can impair nerve function.
  7. Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration supports nerve health.
  8. Monitor Medications: Be aware of potential side effects of medications on nerves.
  9. Manage Stress: Stress management techniques can reduce exacerbations.
  10. Regular Check-ups: Visit healthcare providers regularly for screenings and assessments.

When to See a Doctor:

  1. Persistent Symptoms: If symptoms like tongue weakness or speech difficulties persist.
  2. Difficulty Swallowing: Especially if accompanied by weight loss or choking episodes.
  3. Sleep Problems: If experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea like loud snoring or daytime sleepiness.
  4. Injury or Trauma: Following any head or neck injury.
  5. New Symptoms: Any new or unexplained symptoms involving the tongue or throat.
  6. Changes in Voice: Hoarseness or changes in voice quality.
  7. Difficulty Breathing: Especially if it worsens when lying down.
  8. Progressive Symptoms: Symptoms that worsen over time.
  9. Swelling or Lumps: Any unusual lumps or swelling in the neck or throat region.
  10. Concerns: If you have any concerns about your nerve or neurological health.


Understanding the hypoglossal nerve and neuroglia is essential for recognizing and managing related issues effectively. By recognizing causes, symptoms, diagnostic methods, treatments, and preventive measures, individuals can take proactive steps to maintain nerve health and seek timely medical attention when needed. Always consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice and treatment.


Disclaimer: Each person’s journey is unique, treatment plan, life style, food habit, hormonal condition, immune system, chronic disease condition, geological location, weather and previous medical  history is also unique. So always seek the best advice from a qualified medical professional or health care provider before trying any treatments to ensure to find out the best plan for you. This guide is for general information and educational purposes only. If you or someone are suffering from this disease condition bookmark this website or share with someone who might find it useful! Boost your knowledge and stay ahead in your health journey. Thank you for giving your valuable time to read the article.