Normal, clear speech requires your brain to orchestrate muscle movements in your lips, tongue, vocal cords and your diaphragm. When these muscles are weak or not well controlled, the result is slurred or slow speech. This is dysarthria, a condition treated by the doctors at Golla ENT.


Dysarthria affects your speech and the quality of your voice. Unlike other speech disorders that make forming sounds difficult, dysarthria makes controlling the sounds difficult. Dysarthria symptoms include:

  • Difficulty moving the tongue, lips or facial muscles
  • Abnormal speech rhythm
  • Slow speech
  • Slurred speech
  • Speech that is difficult to understand
  • Uneven speech volume
  • Speaking extremely softly or loudly
  • Raspy or strained voice
  • Excess saliva

In addition to affecting your speech and voice, dysarthria can make chewing and swallowing difficult as these muscles are affected, as well.

Causes of dysarthria

Dysarthria can be the result of various problems, usually strokes, neurological issues, brain injury or other illnesses. Conditions that affect facial muscles, as well as the diaphragm, can result in dysarthria. In addition, sedatives can cause or contribute to dysarthria. Any condition that affects the muscles that regulate the face and the diaphragm and results in lack of muscle tone, control and coordination can be the root cause of dysarthria. These include:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
Brain injury
Brain tumor
Cerebral palsy
Guillain-Barre syndrome
Head injury
Huntington’s disease
Lyme disease
Multiple sclerosis
Muscular dystrophy
Myasthenia gravis
Parkinson’s disease
Wilson’s disease

Diagnosis of dysarthria

Proper diagnosis of dysarthria begins with a medical history review. This includes a review of any past head or brain injuries, stroke or muscular diseases. Next, a physical exam assesses overall muscular condition. Diagnostic tests may be ordered. These include:

  • MRI or CT scans of the neck and brain
  • Electromyography to assess the electrical function of the muscles and nerves
  • Evaluation of swallowing and speaking
  • Blood tests

Diagnostic tests give the physicians at Golla ENT insight into what is happening with the muscles and nerves and can confirm the presence of dysarthria.

Treatment of dysarthria

Dysarthria is more than a nuisance; it can be a symptom of a serious underlying condition. It also makes communication difficult. Difficulty with communication can lead to depression, withdrawal from social activities and strain relationships with friends and family. Treatment of dysarthria is imperative for emotional health.

Treatment of the underlying cause of dysarthria can reduce the dysarthria. Speech and language therapy can strengthen breathing muscles, improve speech rate and help with articulation.