445935 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Dysarthria


    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.


    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

    These factors increase your chance of developing dysarthria:
    • Being at high risk for stroke
    • Having a degenerative brain disease
    • Abusing alcohol or drugs
    • Being older and having poor health
    Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.


    If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to dysarthria. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
      Speech that sounds:
      • Slurred
      • Hoarse, breathy
      • Slow or fast and mumbling
      • Soft (like whispering)
      • Strained
      • Nasal quality
      • Sudden loudness
    • Drooling
    • Difficulty chewing and swallowing


    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. She will also do a physical exam, paying close attention to your:
    • Ability to move lips, tongue, and face
    • Production of air flow for speech
    Depending on your condition, tests may include:
    • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the brain
    • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the brain
    • PET scan —a test that produces images to show the amount of functional activity in the brain
    • Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan—an imaging test that shows blood flow in the brain


    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 language pathologist, which may focus 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
    • Changing medicine


    To help reduce your chance of getting dysarthria, take the following steps:
      Reduce your risk of stroke:
    • If you have an alcohol or drug problem, get help.
    • Ask your doctor if medicines you are taking could lead to dysarthria.


    American Speech-Language-Hearing Association http://www.asha.org/

    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov/


    Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists http://www.caslpa.ca/

    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.com/


    Dysarthria. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/dysarthria.htm . Accessed December 1, 2008.

    Dysarthria: benefits of speech-language pathology. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/dysarthria.htm . Accessed November 18, 2008.

    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 Injury . 2006;20:1307-1319.

    Public stroke prevention guidelines. National Stroke Association website. Available at: http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=PREVENT . Accessed November 16, 2008.

    Stedman’s Medical Dictionary . 28th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2005; 595.

    Swanson J. Dysarthria: what causes slurred speech? Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dysarthria/HQ00589 . Updated July 2008. Accessed December 1, 2008.

    What does an audiologist do? FAQ. University of Cincinnati College of Allied Health Sciences website. Available at: http://cahs.uc.edu/faq/CSD.cfm . Accessed November 16, 2008.

    Wood D. Stroke. EBSCO Publishing Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated February 2008. Accessed December 1, 2008.

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