What causes speech difficulties in adults?

16 May, 2022

Did you know over 1.1 million Australians have speech difficulties? While some causes of speech difficulties are temporary and easily remedied, others can be more persistent.

To understand how to best address your particular speech disorder, it’s helpful to know what might be causing it. Below are some common causes of speech difficulties in adults.


Temporary causes of speech difficulties:

  • A cold or other illness that results in congestion or a sore throat can make it difficult to speak clearly.
  • Allergies can also cause swelling in the throat and mouth, making it difficult to speak.
Speech difficulties in adults | Gen Physio

Causes of persistent speech difficulties:

Persistent speech difficulties can arise in adults for several reasons. Often, underlying medical conditions are to blame. Common causes of persistent speech difficulties in adults include:

1. Muscles weakness

Muscle weakness is one of the most common causes of persistent speech difficulties in adults. The muscles of the mouth, tongue, and throat can become weak due to a variety of factors, including age-related muscle loss, injury, or neurological conditions. This can lead to difficulty producing clear speech sounds and/or trouble forming words correctly.

While many people with muscle weakness will only experience mild difficulties with speech, others may find it impossible to speak. In either case, speech therapy can be an effective treatment option. By working with a therapist to strengthen the muscles required to speak, many people can improve their communication skills and reduce or eliminate their speech difficulties.

2. Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) are also a leading cause of speech difficulties in adults. TBI can damage the brain’s language centres, making it difficult to produce and understand speech. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include difficulty finding the right words, slurred speech, or an inability to speak at all.

In addition, TBI can also cause physical impairments that make it difficult to produce speech sounds correctly. For example, damage to the muscles or nerves that control the lips and tongue can result in impaired articulation. TBI can also affect cognitive skills such as memory and attention, which can make it difficult to follow conversations or remember new vocabulary.

3. Degenerative diseases

Degenerative diseases are another common cause of persistent speech difficulties in adults. These diseases cause a gradual decline in the function of the nervous system, which can lead to problems with movement and speech. Common degenerative diseases that can cause speech difficulties include Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Symptoms vary depending on the disease but may include slurred speech, difficulty speaking clearly, and trouble forming words. In some cases, degenerative diseases can also cause paralysis, which can make it impossible to speak at all.

More causes:

  • Autism
  • Hearing loss

Speech Therapy and Speech Difficulties

The good news is Speech Pathologists can help people with speech difficulties by working with them to develop new skills and strategies for communication. In addition, Speech Therapists can provide support and guidance to help adults cope with the challenges of living with speech difficulties.

Occupational Therapy and Speech Difficulties | Gen Physio

Contact Gen Physio Today!

If you or someone you know is struggling with a speech disorder, the Speech Pathologists at Gen Physio are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our mobile speech therapy services.

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