Dysarthria is a speech disorder that affects the muscles of the face, which become weak, move slowly, or do not move. It differs from
aphasia, 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.
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Factors that increase your chance of developing dysarthria include: Being at high risk for strokeHaving a degenerative brain diseaseHaving a neuromuscular diseaseAbusing alcohol or drugsBeing older and having poor health
Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.
Symptoms of dysarthria include:
Speech that sounds:
SlurredHoarse, breathySlow or fast and mumblingSoft like whisperingStrainedNasalSuddenly loudDroolingDifficulty chewing and swallowing
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done, paying close attention to your: Ability to move your lips, tongue, and faceProduction of air flow for speech
Images may be taken of your brain. This can be done with: MRI scanCT scanPET scanSingle-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scanSwallowing 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 studyElectromyogram
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 speechImproving how you articulateLearning how to speak slowerLearning how to breath better so you can speak louderWorking with family members to help them communicate with youLearning how to use communication devicesSafe chewing or swallowing techniques, if neededChanging medicine
To help reduce your chance of getting dysarthria, take the following steps:
Reduce your risk of stroke:
fruits and vegetables. Limit
If you smoke,
Check your blood pressure often.
Take a low dose of
if your doctor recommends it.
Keep chronic conditions under control.Call 911 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 medicines you are taking could lead to dysarthria.
Dysarthria. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at:
http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/dysarthria.htm. Accessed May 16, 2013.
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 May 16, 2013.
Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. 28th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2005; 595.
Last reviewed May 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD;
Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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