The Five Most Common Speech Disorders in Adults
Communication is a gift we take for granted. It’s easy to forget how effortless it is for many of us to speak with confidence to friends, coworkers or even family members. There are few things more frustrating than trying to express yourself when the power of speech fails you. Stuttering and other common speech disorders make it difficult to impart even the simplest ideas, and as a result can lead to social isolation and depression.
There are several different reasons adults have speech disorders, ranging from traumatic brain injuries to speech impediments that were not corrected in childhood. We’ve examined some of the most common speech disorders in adults and how they are treated.
THE FIVE MOST COMMON SPEECH DISORDERS IN ADULTS
It may come as a surprise that many famous actors and entertainers experienced stuttering, including James Earl Jones.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, stuttering often begins in childhood and can last throughout someone’s life. Early intervention is vital in order to correct the problem.
WHAT CAUSES STUTTERING?
While researchers haven’t pinpointed an exact cause of stuttering, they believe there may be a genetic component—those who stutter tend to have family members who stutter.
Stuttering issues can also be compounded by external factors. Teasing from others and embarrassment contribute to anxiety, which in turn, tightens speech muscles.
HOW IS STUTTERING TREATED?
Treatment involves working with a speech pathologist. [link to RCENT page https://www.raleighcapitolent.com/our-staff/speech-pathologists ] These professionals work with both adults and children to treat speech, language and swallowing disorders.
Those who stutter work to control their speech rate and monitor breathing. As they practice these techniques, speech will improve over time.
If you have apraxia, your tongue and lips aren’t able to move in the correct way to produce sounds. In extreme cases, apraxia can render someone unable to speak at all. Apraxia also involves saying made up words or saying “chicken” for “kitchen,” according to information from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
WHAT CAUSES APRAXIA?
Apraxia is typically caused by stroke, dementia, brain tumors or traumatic brain injuries.
HOW IS APRAXIA TREATED?
Just as an athlete needs to train certain muscles so they will respond correctly, a speech pathologist will work with you to retrain the muscles involved in your speech. This means repeated practice of mouth movements.
Dysarthria differs from apraxia, in that the speech muscles are weak due to brain damage. This can lead to slurred or imprecise speech.
WHAT CAUSES DYSARTHRIA?
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the following diseases play a major role in the development of dysarthria:
- Brain tumors
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Cerebral palsy
HOW IS DYSARTHRIA TREATED?
Finding the correct treatment depends upon the underlying cause of dysarthria and its severity. Speech language pathologists may work with you to help slow down your speech and use your breath to speak more clearly. In addition, they will concentrate on training the muscles in your mouth, lips and tongue to make them stronger.
4. Voice disorders involving the larynx (voice box)
There are several different types of voice disorders that are caused by problems with the voice box. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, some of these voice disorders include:
Those who use their voice as part of their daily jobs (such as teachers and singers) are more prone to hoarseness than others, and it’s typically a temporary condition. However, chronic hoarseness may be an indicator of other problems.
- Polyps or nodules on the vocal cords
These growths make it difficult for the vocal cords to vibrate to produce speech. They are caused by a wide range of conditions ranging from allergies to smoking. Large growths are removed surgically, while smaller ones can be successfully managed by treating the underlying condition.
- Spasmodic dysphonia
This occurs when your vocal folds spasm or tighten when you speak. At times you may not be able to speak at all. It’s typically caused by problems with your nervous system or a brain disorder. While there’s no cure for this condition, your local ear, nose and throat physician may inject Botox into your vocal folds to loosen them.In addition, your speech language pathologist can provide voice therapy to help you communicate.
- Vocal fold paralysis
When your vocal folds are not able to move, it not only causes speech difficulties, but it can lead to serious breathing and swallowing problems. Sometimes, a tracheotomy (an opening in the neck) is necessary to breathe. Speech therapy may be needed in order to help prevent food from going down the “windpipe.”
Aphasia is a language disorder that is caused by damage to the left side (the “verbal” side) of your brain and is most commonly seen after a stroke. This makes it difficult to speak, read and/or understand what is being said.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF APHASIA?
Some of the symptoms include:
- Several instances of saying the wrong word. For example, saying “car” when you meant to say “house.”
- Switching sounds, such as saying “way drive” instead of “driveway.”
- Using made up words either on their own or in a sentence with real words.
WHAT ARE TREATMENTS FOR APHASIA?
There are several different approaches to treatment. You’ll have to work closely with your speech language health care provider to find the most effective for you. At times, this may mean learning new ways to communicate by using gestures, computers or pictures.
HELP FOR SPEECH DISORDERS IS AVAILABLE LOCALLY
At Raleigh Capitol ENT, we adopt a team approach to treating speech disorders. Whether it involves intensive therapy with one of our speech pathologists or surgical intervention by our board-certified ear, nose and throat doctors, we’ll create a customized treatment plan for you.
Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose, and Throat is the area’s premiere physician-owned ENT practice with six convenient locations throughout Wake County. Our board-certified physicians have extensive experience in treating both common and complex cases to help adults and children alike. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us.