Difficulty With Speaking

What Causes Difficulty Speaking?

Difficulty speaking can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'needs attention' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose difficulty speaking, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "difficulty speaking" as a symptom.  Here are eight possibilities:
  • Chronic Fatigue-Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Brain Tumor
  • Stroke Risk
  • Trichinosis
  • Diabetes II
  • Parkinson's Disease

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
Alzheimer's in family members
severe cold weather muscle spasms
major pain in cold/cool/damp weather
increased emotional instability
high air pollution exposure
severely impaired ability to walk
history of bulimia
occasional confusion/disorientation
abnormal taste in mouth
moderate unexplained weight gain
greatly reduced arm function
frequent confusion/disorientation
... and more than 130 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of difficulty speaking:
Cause Probability Status
Trichinosis 97% Confirm
Multiple Sclerosis 23% Unlikely
Stroke Risk 20% Unlikely
Alzheimer's Disease 1% Ruled out
Chronic Fatigue-Fibromyalgia 1% Ruled out
Brain Tumor 0% Ruled out
Diabetes II 0% Ruled out
Parkinson's Disease 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Mouth/Oral Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about difficulty with speaking:
Has your ability to speak declined for no obvious reason? A minor decline means people can still understand you, but you have trouble saying some words or speaking clearly. A severe decline means people often can not understand you any more.
Possible responses:
→ No / there is an obvious reason / don't know
→ Minor decline occurring over more than 1 year
→ Severe decline occurring over more than 1 year
→ Minor decline within the past year
→ Severe decline within the past year
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either gradual decline in speaking ability or rapid decline in speaking ability, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Alzheimer's Disease

Difficulty speaking is a common symptom of Alzheimer's Disease and is often made worse by patients being unable to remember simple words or concentrate on what they are saying.

Brain Tumor

Speech difficulty of gradual onset is a possible brain tumor symptom.

Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Fibromyalgia sufferers can have difficulty speaking or making themselves understood.

Diabetes Type II

Difficulty speaking can occur during diabetic attacks; it is a warning sign that blood sugar levels are too low.

Multiple Sclerosis

Difficulty speaking may result from a variety of neurological disturbances, including Multiple Sclerosis.  Weakness, stiffness, or uncoordinated movement of the muscles controlling the lips, tongue, jaw, soft palate, vocal cords and diaphragm can all cause speech problems.

Parkinson's Disease

About half of all Parkinson's Disease sufferers have difficulty speaking.


A mini stroke (TIA) is a brief period of reduced blood flow to an area of the brain, often damaging brain cells and resulting in certain impaired brain functions, such as difficulty speaking.

Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
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