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.

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

  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor or traumatic brain injury
  • Infection
  • Conditions that paralyze the face or cause weakness, such as Bell’s palsy
  • Degenerative brain disease, such as:     
  • Alzheimer disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Huntington chorea
  • Parkinson disease
  • Neuromuscular disease, such as:     
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Surgery or weakness on the tongue
  • Structural problems, such as not wearing your dentures
  • Side effects of medications that act on the central nervous system
  • Risk Factors

    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

    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

    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).


    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

    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.