Dysarthria is a condition in which a person has difficulty controlling or coordinating because of weakness of the muscles they use when speaking. The condition is often characterized by slurred or slow speech, which may be difficult for other people to understand.

The most common causes of the condition are neurological diseases such as stroke, severe head trauma, brain tumors and diseases that cause paralysis of the face, tongue or throat, or muscle weakness. A speech disorder can also be caused by the use of certain medications.

Treatment is aimed at controlling or curing the underlying cause of the speech disorder, and if effective, the affected person’s speech abilities improve.

Sometimes therapy with a speech therapist is also necessary, and in most cases speaking abilities improve. If the condition is due to taking certain strong drugs, changing the dose or stopping them will help improve the affected person’s speech.

What are the symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of speech disorder vary depending on the underlying cause and can be:
• Slurred speech;
• Slow pace of speech;
• Inability to raise the intonation of the voice and very quiet, whisper-like speech;
• Too fast speaking, which is difficult to understand;
• Nasal, strained or hoarse speaking;
• Irregular or abnormal rhythm of speaking;
• Monotonous speech;
• Difficulty moving the tongue or facial muscles;
• Drooling from the mouth;

When should you seek medical help?

Speech disorder can be a sign of some disease. Seek medical attention if you experience sudden and unexplained changes in your ability to speak clearly.

What are the causes?

The condition can be caused by difficulty moving the muscles of the mouth, face or upper respiratory system that control speech. Many diseases can cause dysarthria for example:

• Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis /ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease/;
• Brain trauma;
• Brain tumor;
• Cerebral palsy;
• Serious head injury;
• Huntington’s disease;
• Multiple sclerosis;
• Muscular dystrophy;
• Parkinson’s disease;
• Heart attack;
• Guillain’s syndrome -Barre;
• Wilson’s disease;
• Myasthenia gravis;

Some drugs such as opioids can also cause the speech disorder.

Treatment of dysarthria

Treatment will depend on the cause and the strength of the clinical manifestations, as well as the form of the speech disorder.

Treatment focuses on curing the underlying disease, which in most cases leads to an improvement in the speech abilities of the affected person.

If your speech disorder is due to certain medications, consult your doctor about changing or discontinuing therapy with these medications.

Speech and language therapy

In some cases, language and speech therapy is necessary, which will help to restore normal speech abilities, as well as to improve voice communication.

A speech therapist can best determine the extent of speech disorders and develop an effective plan to improve speech abilities.

After its preparation, it is moved to its implementation, which is carried out with the assistance and support of the speech therapist. Speech therapy may include exercises to pronounce words correctly, to strengthen facial muscles, and to develop proper breathing skills when speaking.

The speech therapist may also recommend other methods of communication if language and speech therapy are not effective. Possible ways to communicate are through gestures, visual cues or through appropriate computer programs.

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