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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:

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.