Dysarthria is a speech disorder. It happens when the muscles needed for speech are damaged or weak.
It is not the same as aphasia, which is a language disorder.
Dysarthria may happen due to problems with the muscles needed to speak.
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Common causes are:
- Brain tumor or traumatic brain injury
- Conditions that paralyze the face or cause weakness, such as Bell palsy
- Degenerative brain diseases, such as
- Neuromuscular diseases, such as:
- Alcohol or substance use disorder
- Surgery or weakness on the tongue
- Structural problems, such as not wearing dentures
- Side effects of medicines that act on the central nervous system
This problem is more common in older adults. It is also more common in people who have any of the health problems that cause dysarthria.
Problems may be:
Speech that sounds:
- Hoarse and breathy
- Slow or fast and mumbling
- Soft like whispering
- Suddenly loud
- Trouble chewing and swallowing
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the muscles needed for speech.
Images may be taken of the brain. This can be done with:
The electrical function of your nerves and muscles may be tested. This can be done with:
The cause will need to be treated. Speech therapy will also be needed.
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem. Managing chronic health problems may help.
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: https://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/dysarthria. Accessed January 26, 2021.
O'Hare A, Bremner L. Management of developmental speech and language disorders: Part 1. Arch Dis Child. 2016 Mar;101(3):272-277.
Speech and language disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/speech-and-language-disorders. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Stroke symptoms. American Stroke Association website. Available at: http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/WarningSigns/Stroke-Warning-Signs-and-Symptoms_UCM_308528_SubHomePage.jsp. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 1/26/2021