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Dysarthria

Pronounced: dis-ARTH-ree-ah

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.

Causes    TOP

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

Risk Factors    TOP

Factors that increase your chance of dysarthria include:

  • High risk for stroke
  • Degenerative brain disease
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Alcohol or drug use disorder
  • Increased age along with poor health

Symptoms    TOP

Dysarthria may cause:

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

Diagnosis    TOP

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 may be tested. This can be done with a nerve conduction study.

The electrical function of your muscles may be tested. This can be done with a electromyogram (EMG).

Treatment    TOP

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 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

Prevention    TOP

To help reduce your chance of dysarthria:

  • 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, ask your doctor about rehabilitation programs.
  • Ask your doctor if medications you are taking could lead to dysarthria.

RESOURCES:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
http://www.asha.org
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
http://www.ninds.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Heart and Stroke Foundation
http://www.heartandstroke.com
Speech-Language and Audiology Canada
http://sac-oac.ca

References:

Dysarthria. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed November 9, 2017.
McGhee H, Cornwell P, Addis P, Jarman C. Treating dysarthria following traumatic brain injury: Investigating the benefits of commencing treatment during post-traumatic amnesia in two participants. Brain Inj. 2006;20(12):1307-1319.
Preventing a stroke. National Stroke Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed November 9, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 12/20/2014

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