Dysarthria is a speech disorder. It differs from aphasia, which is a language disorder.

  • Causes

    This condition can be caused by not being able to control and coordinate the muscles that you use to talk. This can result from:

    • Stroke
    • Brain tumor
      or brain trauma
    • Infection

    • Conditions that paralyze the face or cause weakness, such as
      Bell’s palsy

    • Degenerative brain disease, such as:

      • Alzheimer’s disease
      • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
      • Multiple sclerosis
      • Huntington’s chorea
      • Parkinson’s disease

    • Neuromuscular disease, such as:

      • Cerebral palsy
      • Multiple sclerosis
      • Muscular dystrophy
      • Myasthenia gravis
    • Alcohol
      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

  • Definition

    Dysarthria is a speech disorder. It differs from
    aphasia, which is a language disorder.

    Mouth and Throat
    Mouth 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.

  • Diagnosis

    You 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

    Images may be taken of your brain. This can be done with:

    • 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

    The electrical function of your nerves or muscles may be tested. This can be done with:

    • Nerve conduction study
    • Electromyogram

  • Prevention

    To 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

      • 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
        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.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors 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

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of dysarthria include:

    • Speech that sounds:

      • Slurred
      • Hoarse, breathy
      • Slow or fast and mumbling
      • Soft like whispering
      • Strained
      • Nasal
      • Suddenly loud
    • Drooling
    • Difficulty chewing and swallowing

  • Treatment

    Talk 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 strengthen 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