DefinitionDysarthria is a speech disorder. It differs from aphasia , which is a language disorder.
|Mouth and Throat|
|Dysarthria may arise from problems with the muscles in the mouth, throat, and respiratory system, as well as other causes.|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
CausesThis condition can be caused by not being able to control and coordinate the muscles that you use to talk. This can result from:
- Brain tumor or brain trauma
- Conditions that paralyze the face or cause weakness, such as Bell’s palsy
- Degenerative brain disease, such as:
- Neuromuscular disease, such as:
- Cerebral palsy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Myasthenia gravis
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Surgery or weakness on the tongue
- Structural problems, such as not wearing your dentures
- Side effects of medications that act on the central nervous system
Risk FactorsFactors that increase your chance of developing dysarthria include:
- Being at high risk for stroke
- Having a degenerative brain disease
- Having a neuromuscular disease
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Increased age along with poor health
SymptomsSymptoms of dysarthria include:
- Speech that sounds:
- Hoarse, breathy
- Slow or fast and mumbling
- Soft like whispering
- Suddenly loud
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
DiagnosisYou will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done, paying close attention to your:
- Ability to move your lips, tongue, and face
- Production of air flow for speech
- MRI scan
- CT scan
- PET scan
- Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan
- Swallowing study, which may include x-rays and drinking a special liquid
TreatmentTalk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
- Addressing the cause of dysarthria, such as stroke
- Working with a speech therapist, which may include focusing on:
- Doing exercises to loosen the mouth area and strengthening the muscles for speech
- Improving how you articulate
- Learning how to speak slower
- Learning how to breath better so you can speak louder
- Working with family members to help them communicate with you
- Learning how to use communication devices
- Safe chewing or swallowing techniques, if needed
- Changing medication
PreventionTo help reduce your chance of getting dysarthria, take the following steps:
- Reduce your risk of stroke:
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables . Limit dietary salt and fat .
- If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit .
- Maintain a healthy weight .
- Check your blood pressure often.
- Take a low dose of aspirin if your doctor recommends it.
- Keep chronic conditions under control.
- Call for medical help right away if you have symptoms of a stroke, even if symptoms stop.
- If you have an alcohol or drug problem, get help.
- Ask your doctor if medications you are taking could lead to dysarthria.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Heart and Stroke Foundation
Speech-Language and Audiology Canada
Dysarthria. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/dysarthria.htm. Accessed November 23, 2014.
McGhee H, Cornwell P, et al. Treating dysarthria following traumatic brain injury: Investigating the benefits of commencing treatment during post-traumatic amnesia in two participants. Brain Injury. 2006;20:1307-1319.
Preventing a stroke. National Stroke Association website. Available at: http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/preventing-stroke. Accessed November 23, 2014.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 12/2014
- Update Date: 12/20/2014