Medical Q&As

Slurring of speech - causes?

Can you tell me any reasons for slurring of speech in the absence of drugs and alcohol?

Drugs and alcohol account for most cases of slurring of speech however, since you have excluded consideration of those common causes we are left with a wide range of disorders. I am assuming that your use of the word drugs refers to both prescribed medication and illicit drug use because it is important to appreciate that some ethically prescribed drugs can also cause slurring of speech. Leaving that consideration aside the remaining list includes neurological disorders such as stroke, dementia, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Parkinsonís disease and tumour. Various muscle-related conditions could be responsible such as myasthenia gravis, muscular dystrophy and facial palsy. Various oral conditions could be responsible such as poorly fitting false teeth, tongue-tie and cleft palate. It is extremely important that you regard this list as a broad range of possible causes and not jump to the most serious cause of slurring of speech and ponder its consequences. A medical diagnosis is never made on the basis of one symptom. Many other factors enter the equation such as the age of the person, associated symptoms, medical history, drug history, family history and factors that improve or aggravate the symptom. If you have concerns about slurring of speech in a family member or close friend and drugs and alcohol are not a factor then the person should be medically assessed.