(Word Blindness; Text Blindness; Visual Aphasia)
Pronounced: ah-LEX-ee-ah ah-NOM-ee-ah
Alexic anomia happens when you lose your ability to understand written words. You can no longer read. This is a type of aphasia]]> , which is a language disorder. It is caused by brain damage. This is a serious condition that may change over time, depending on the cause.
Stroke—Most Common Cause of Alexic Anomia
Alexic anomia is caused by damage to the language areas of the brain, for example:
These factors increase your chance of developing alexic anomia:
- Being at risk for stroke or dementia]]>
- Having a history of ]]>transient ischemic attacks]]> (TIA)
- Being middle to older age (more common in older people)
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 alexic anomia. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
- Inability to read with understanding
- Ability to write, but not read what you have written
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. She will do a physical exam. To help differentiate alexic anomia from other, similar conditions, your doctor may perform a neurological examination, tests to check brain function, and/or order these tests:
- CT scan]]> —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the head
- ]]>MRI scan]]> —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the head
- ]]>PET scan]]> —a test that makes images showing the amount of functional activity in the brain
You may be referred to a neurologist. This is a doctor who specializes in diseases of the nervous system.
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
- Speech-language therapy—to help you use your remaining communication abilities, restore lost abilities, learn to compensate for language problems, and learn other methods of communicating
- Counseling]]> —to help you cope with your condition and help your family learn how to better communicate with you
- Individualized rehabilitation program—to focus on what caused your condition
Since stroke is the most common cause of aphasia, follow these guidelines to help prevent stroke:
- Exercise]]> regularly.
- Eat plenty of ]]>fruits and vegetables]]> .
- ]]>Limit salt]]> and ]]>fat]]> in your diet.
- If you smoke, ]]>quit]]> .
- If you drink, do so in moderation.
- Maintain a ]]>healthy weight]]> .
- Control your ]]>blood pressure]]> .
- Ask your doctor if you should take low-dose ]]>aspirin]]> .
- Properly treat and control chronic conditions, like ]]>diabetes]]> .
- If you have signs of a stroke, get help right away.
National Aphasia Association
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
The Aphasia Institute
Brain Injury Association of Alberta
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
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Freedman L, Selchen DH, Black SE, Kaplan R, Garnett ES, Nahmias C. Posterior cortical dementia with alexia: neurobehavioural, MRI, and PET findings. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1991;54;443-448.
Kirshner HS. Aphasia and aphasic syndromes. In: Bradley WG, Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, eds. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Butterworth Heniemann Elsevier; 2008: 141-160.
NINDS aphasia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/aphasia/aphasia.htm . Updated October 2008. Accessed November 5, 2008.
Stedman TL. Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. 28th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2005;48; 177; B13-B14.
Last reviewed November 2008 by ]]>Judy Chang, MD, FAASM]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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