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Redmond Regional Medical Center



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

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


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


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


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.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 11/2015 -
  • Update Date: 12/20/2014 -
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

  • Heart and Stroke Foundation

  • Speech-Language and Audiology Canada

  • Dysarthria. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: Accessed November 23, 2014.

  • 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 Inj. 2006;20(12):1307-1319.

  • Preventing a stroke. National Stroke Association website. Available at: Accessed November 23, 2014.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Redmond Regional Medical Center does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.