What is slurred speech?

Slurred speech is a symptom characterized by poor pronunciation of words, mumbling, or a change in speed or rhythm during talking. The medical term for slurred speech is dysarthria.

Slurred speech may develop slowly over time or follow a single incident. Slurred speech may be temporary or permanent, depending on the underlying cause.

Proper speech requires normal function of the brain, mouth, tongue, and vocal cords (larynx). Damage or disease affecting any of these organs may cause slurred speech. Common causes of slurred speech include alcohol or drug intoxication, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and neuromuscular disorders. Neuromuscular disorders that often cause slurred speech include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, severe neuromuscular disease that causes muscle weakness and disability), cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and Parkinson’s disease. the onset of symptoms

Slurred speech may be a symptom of serious or life-threatening condition, such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have slurred speech and other serious symptoms, such as numbness or weakness on one side of your body; a change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness; or the worst headache of your life, as these can be signs of stroke.

Seek prompt medical care

if your slurred speech is persistent or causes you concern.


What other symptoms might occur with slurred speech?

Slurred speech may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect your ability to speak may also involve other body systems.

Neurological symptoms that may occur along with slurred speech

Slurred speech may accompany other symptoms affecting the brain and nerves including:


What causes slurred speech?

There are many causes of slurred speech. Disease or injury to the brain or nerves and muscles of the face, tongue, and vocal cords may cause slurred speech.

Neuromuscular causes of slurred speech

Slurred speech can be caused by disease or damage affecting the muscle and nerves of the vocal cords, mouth, or tongue. These neuromuscular causes include:

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Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 8, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves