Disease: Dysarthria


    Dysarthria is a condition in which the muscles you use for speech are weak or you have difficulty controlling them. Dysarthria often is characterized by slurred or slow speech that can be difficult to understand.

    Common causes of dysarthria include nervous system (neurological) disorders such as stroke, brain injury, brain tumors, and conditions that cause facial paralysis or tongue or throat muscle weakness. Certain medications also can cause dysarthria.

    Dysarthria treatment is directed at treating the underlying cause of your condition when possible, which may improve your speech. You may have speech therapy to help improve speech. For dysarthria caused by prescription medications, changing or discontinuing the medications may help.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Signs and symptoms of dysarthria vary, depending on the underlying cause and the type of dysarthria, and may include:

    • Slurred speech
    • Slow speech
    • Inability to speak louder than a whisper or speaking too loudly
    • Rapid speech that is difficult to understand
    • Nasal, raspy or strained voice
    • Uneven or abnormal speech rhythm
    • Uneven speech volume
    • Monotone speech
    • Difficulty moving your tongue or facial muscles

    When to see a doctor

    Dysarthria can be a sign of a serious condition. See your doctor if you have sudden or unexplained changes in your ability to speak.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    In dysarthria, you may have difficulty moving the muscles in your mouth, face or upper respiratory system that control speech. Conditions that may result in dysarthria include:

    • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease)
    • Brain injury
    • Brain tumor
    • Cerebral palsy
    • Guillain-Barre syndrome
    • Head injury
    • Huntington's disease
    • Lyme disease
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Muscular dystrophy
    • Myasthenia gravis
    • Parkinson's disease
    • Stroke
    • Wilson's disease

    Some medications, such as narcotics or sedatives, also can cause dysarthria.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    A speech-language pathologist might evaluate your speech to help determine the type of dysarthria you have. This can be helpful to the neurologist, who will look for the underlying cause.

    Besides conducting a physical exam, your doctor might order tests, including:

    • Imaging tests. Imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan, create detailed images of your brain, head and neck that may help identify the cause of your speech problem.
    • Brain and nerve studies. These can help pinpoint the source of your symptoms. An electroencephalogram measures electrical activity in your brain. An electromyogram evaluates electrical activity in your nerves as they transmit messages to your muscles. Nerve conduction studies measure the strength and speed of the electrical signals as they travel through your nerves to your muscles.
    • Blood and urine tests. These can help determine if an infectious or inflammatory disease is causing your symptoms.
    • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap). In this procedure, a doctor or nurse inserts a needle in your lower back to remove a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid for laboratory testing. A lumbar puncture can help diagnose serious infections, disorders of the central nervous system, and cancers of the brain or spinal cord.
    • Brain biopsy. If a brain tumor is suspected, your doctor may remove a small sample of your brain tissue to test.
    • Neuropsychological tests. These measure your thinking (cognitive) skills, your ability to understand speech, your ability to understand reading and writing, and other skills. Dysarthria doesn't affect your cognitive skills and understanding of speech and writing, but an underlying condition can.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Because of the communication problems dysarthria causes, complications can include:

    • Social difficulty. Communication problems may affect your relationships with family and friends and make social situations challenging.
    • Depression. In some people, dysarthria may lead to social isolation and depression.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Coping and support

    If you have significant dysarthria that makes your speech difficult to understand, these suggestions may help you communicate more effectively:

    • Speak slowly. Listeners may understand you better with additional time to think about what they're hearing.
    • Start small. Introduce your topic with one word or a short phrase before speaking in longer sentences.
    • Gauge understanding. Ask listeners to confirm that they know what you're saying.
    • If you're tired, keep it short. Fatigue can make your speech more difficult to understand.
    • Have a backup. Writing messages can be helpful. Type messages on a cellphone or hand-held device, or carry a pencil and small pad of paper with you.
    • Use shortcuts. Create drawings and diagrams or use photos during conversations, so you don't have to say everything. Gesturing or pointing to an object also can help convey your message.

    Family and friends

    If you have a family member or friend with dysarthria, the following suggestions may help you better communicate with that person:

    • Allow the person time to talk.
    • Don't finish sentences or correct errors.
    • Look at the person when he or she is speaking.
    • Reduce distracting noises in the environment.
    • Tell the person if you're having trouble understanding.
    • Keep paper and pencils or pens readily available.
    • Help the person with dysarthria create a book of words, pictures and photos to assist with conversations.
    • Involve the person with dysarthria in conversations as much as possible.
    • Talk normally. Many people with dysarthria understand others without difficulty, so there's no need to slow down or speak loudly when you talk.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

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