Receptive aphasia is a language disorder that involves difficulty understanding spoken or written language. This fact sheet focuses on alexic anomia. Alexic anomia happens when you lose your ability to understand written words. You can no longer read and name words. It is caused by the brain not functioning correctly. This is a serious condition that may change over time, depending on the cause.
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Alexic anomia is caused by damage to the language areas of the brain, for example:
Alexic anomia is more common in older people. Other factors that may increase your chance of alexic anomia include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A neurological examination and tests may also be done to check brain function.
Imaging tests are used to evaluate the brain and other structures. These may include:
You may be referred to a neurologist. This is a doctor who specializes in diseases of the nervous system.
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Since stroke is a common cause of aphasia, follow these guidelines to help prevent stroke:
If you have signs of a stroke, call for emergency medical services right away.
National Aphasia Association
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
The Aphasia Institute
Brain Injury Association of Alberta
Aphasia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Aphasia-Information-Page. Accessed February 16, 2018.
Cherny LR. Aphasia, alexia, and oral reading. Top Stroke Rehabil. 2004;11:22-36.
Freedman L, Selchen DH, et al. Posterior cortical dementia with alexia: neurobehavioural, MRI, and PET findings. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1991;54;443-448.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 4/30/2015