Slurring of words is medically referredto as dysarthria. This condition stems from problems with the musclesmaking one unable to pronounce words with ease or produce them atall. This condition can lead to numerous problems in a person's life,regarding his/her lifestyle and overall achievements in life.
Thus, if you happen to suffer from thiscondition or know someone who does, the following lines will be ofassistance, offering basic information about slurred speech andpossible treatments for it.
What is Slurred Speech?
The main causes behind this conditionare many and usually involve a brain or muscle disorder which makesit difficult for the muscles of the mouth to be controlled by theaffected person. Also, the condition can affect the tongue, thelarynx or the vocal cords.
Hence, the affected muscles may becompletely or partially paralyzed, making proper speech impossible.
In cases of brain damage, dysarthria iscaused by a brain tumor, dementia, stroke or traumatic brain injury.Additionally, a neck or face trauma or a surgery related to thetreatment of these conditions, involving a total or a partial removalof the voice box, all are cases which can potentially lead to thedevelopment of slurred speech.
Sometimes, this condition can berelated to specific diseases which affect the sufferer. These can becerebral palsy, MS, muscular dystrophy, myasthenia gravis andParkinson's disease. Alternatively, some other, less common causes ofslurred speech are excessive alcohol consumption and alcoholintoxication which accompanies this process, wearing dentures which donot fit correctly and taking some medications which affect thecentral nervous system, being narcotics, phenytoin or carbamazepine.
Due to the possible complexity of thiscondition, health experts usually need to perform many tests duringthe process of diagnosis. The physician, for example, may need toperform laryngoscopy, inserting a device inside the patient's throatin order to obtain visual data of the area and see the causes behindthe slurred speech.
Additionally, blood tests, MRI or CATscans, electromyograms or some other forms of diagnosticexaminations may need to be done on the patient in order for thiscondition to be properly diagnosed or ruled out.
Once slurred speech is diagnosedmedically, adequate treatment commences. The patient is commonly sentto a speech and language specialist in order to be tested andtreated. There, the patient may learn many skills which will allowhim/her to overcome his/her speaking problems. In some cases, theseskills may involve learning how to chew properly or swallow in theright manner. Even avoiding conversation when fatigue is felt may beadvisable. Alternatively, the patients may need to repeat certainsounds over and over again in order to learn how to master themproperly, without slurring.
Also, sometimes, slurred speech canprove to be quite unnerving for the speaker, especially when he/shecannot do anything about it. Then, these people, through therapy, aretaught how to control their frustration and manage to keep themaway, focusing on solving the speech problems they are suffering frominstead.
When all else fails and the recovery ofvoice or speaking skills is not possible, patients are taught how touse the computer for expressing themselves. Flip cards or specialword-forming computer software may be used for these purposes aswell. Surgery is considered to be the lastresort.
Symptoms of Slurred Speech
Simply put, people suffering fromdysarthria have problems related to their speech and the process ofproducing sounds and forming words from them. The rhythm of thespeech may be altered in patients suffering from this condition andthey might change the speed or the pronunciation of the sounds theyproduce.
Thereby, they might sound as if theyare mumbling or speak softly, even whispering at times. Also, thesounds they produce may appear to be nasalized or, perhaps bestdescribed as stuffy, hoarse, excessively strained or breathy.
Taking into consideration that thisproblem is connected to the muscles, the affected individuals mayhave difficulties swallowing or chewing as well as moving their lipsor their tongue and jaw.
Bear in mind that slurred speech itselfcan be a symptoms of some serious health complications, especially ifit occurs hand-in-hand with drowsiness, memory issues, mood swings,loss of consciousness or a change in the level of consciousness, lackof muscle coordination, seizures, strong and serious headaches andvision difficulties like pain in the eyes and complete or partialloss of vision.
Also, people who suffer from slurredspeech may also be prone to drooling, muscle spasms andmuscle weakness.
All in all, speech therapy is usuallynecessary for helping people suffering from slurred speech. This is acondition which usually affects the muscles involved in the speakingprocess, impairing them and triggering abnormal production of verballanguage, being arhythmical, too fast or too slow or resemblingmumbling.