A speech sound disorder occurs when a person has difficulty producing speech sounds, affecting his or her ability to communicate. Children often make mistakes as their vocabulary grows, but a speech sound disorder occurs past the age at which they are expected to know how to make the correct sounds.
Sometimes, speech sound disorders continue into adulthood. Other adults develop speech problems following a stroke or traumatic head injury.
Types of Speech Sound Disorders
There are two main types of speech sound disorders: articulation disorders and phonological disorders.
Articulation disorders involve problems making sounds. Sounds may be substituted, omitted, added or distorted. This results in speech that is difficult for others to understand. Common problems include substituting the letter “r” with “w” (“wabbit” for “rabbit”), shortening words or speaking with a lisp.
Phonological disorders involve patterns of sound errors. Mistakes are made with entire groups of words; for instance, sounds made in the back of the mouth may be substituted with sounds made in the front of the mouth, e.g. substituting the letter “d” for “g” (“got” for “dot”). People with phonological disorders are often able to hear these errors when others speak, without picking up on their own mistakes.
Causes & Treatment
Many times, the cause of speech sound disorders is unknown. Children may not learn how to correctly pronounce certain sounds, and this can carry over into adulthood. Other times, the cause is physical in nature. Developmental disorders, genetic syndromes, neurological disorders, hearing loss and other illnesses may all contribute to speech sound disorders.
A speech-language pathologist (SLP) will thoroughly evaluate a patient to determine the cause of the disorder and recommend a course of treatment. He or she will work closely with the individual to improve articulation, reduce errors and demonstrate which sounds are correct and how to recognize when they are incorrect.
Pain or problems while swallowing can cause anxiety and stress and hamper your lifestyle. Medically called dysphagia, difficulty swallowing typically occurs in older patients and usually is not cause for alarm. However if problems swallowing persist more than a day or two or cause pain it’s best to schedule an appointment at one of our Minneapolis & St. Paul clinics.
Difficulty swallowing can arise from problems with numerous nerves and muscles in your mouth and throat. Brain damage, nerve damage, cancer, and stomach reflux can cause difficulty swallowing. Symptoms can include not being able to swallow, drooling, hoarseness, heartburn and severe coughing or gagging. Our physicians will best be able to pinpoint the underlying cause of your dysphagia and offer the best solution following thorough investigation into the cause of your swallowing problems.
Diagnosis & Treatment
The most common dysphagia evaluations we may ask you to undergo after an interview and physical exam are cineradiography, upper endoscopy and manometry. Each help your doctor find out exactly what part of your mouth and throat is causing your symptoms. Treatments for difficulty swallowing are ranging. Your doctor might simply recommend a speech or swallowing therapy with our Voice Center, while more severe cases could require surgery or prescription medication.
Follow these lifestyle habits to help with your difficulty of swallowing
- Maintain adequate hydration by drinking at least eight (64 oz.) glasses of water each day. Juice, carbonated beverages, and other soft drinks are not substitutes for water. Try to maintain proper humidity in your home and workplace. Relative humidity of 40% or more is best for the vocal folds.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol consumption.
- Monitor medications. Antihistamines and diuretics cause dryness.
- Maintain an anti-reflux and heartburn regimen, if necessary. Event “silent” reflux can be damaging to the vocal folds.
- Keep in good health, exercising regularly, but not too noisily or vigorously. Follow good nutrition guidelines and get adequate rest. Monitor your stress level. When you are run down, your voice can show it.
- Do not smoke.
Preventing dysphagia is difficult because the causes are often neurological. However, to reduce the risk it’s best to eat slowly, chew food thoroughly and drink plenty of water.
Call Midwest Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists at (651) 702-0750 for more information or to schedule an appointment.