Dysarthria is a speech disorder that usually results from a stroke. The muscles of the mouth, throat, and respiratory system are affected. The muscles may be weak or poorly coordinated. If you have this condition, you may have trouble forming words.

Mouth and Throat

Mouth Throat
Dysarthria affects the muscles in the mouth, throat, and respiratory system.
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.


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

Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of developing dysarthria:

  • Being at high risk for stroke
  • Having a degenerative brain disease
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Being older and having poor health

Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.


If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to dysarthria. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:

  • Speech that sounds:
    • Slurred
    • Hoarse, breathy
    • Slow or fast and mumbling
    • Soft (like whispering)
    • Strained
    • Nasal quality
    • Sudden loudness
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. She will also do a physical exam, paying close attention to your:

  • Ability to move lips, tongue, and face
  • Production of air flow for speech

Depending on your condition, tests may include:

  • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the brain
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the brain
  • PET scan —a test that produces images to show the amount of functional activity in the brain
  • Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan—an imaging test that shows blood flow in the brain


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 language pathologist, which may focus on:
    • Doing exercises to loosen the mouth area and strengthen 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
  • Changing medication


To help reduce your chance of getting dysarthria, take the following steps:

  • Reduce your risk of stroke:
  • If you have an alcohol or drug problem, get help.
  • Ask your doctor if medications you are taking could lead to dysarthria.