Dysarthria is a speech disorder. It differs from
, 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.
This condition can be caused by not being able to control and coordinate the muscles that you use to talk. This can result from:
or brain trauma
Conditions that paralyze the face or cause weakness, such as
Degenerative brain disease, such as:
Neuromuscular disease, such as:
- Cerebral palsy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Myasthenia gravis
- 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
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 of dysarthria include:
Speech that sounds:
- Hoarse, breathy
- Slow or fast and mumbling
- Soft like whispering
- Suddenly loud
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
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:
- 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
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
To help reduce your chance of getting dysarthria, take the following steps:
Reduce your risk of stroke:
- Exercise regularly.
fruits and vegetables. Limit
If you smoke,
talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
- 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.
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 February 13, 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.
Stroke prevention. National Stroke Association website. Available at:
http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=PREVENT. Accessed February 13, 2014.