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Parkinson’s and Speech Problems

Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which a part of the brain called the substantia nigra loses nerve cells. This loss leads to a decrease in a substance called dopamine, which is vital for regulating body movements. 

Most Parkinson’s cases are registered in the age group of 55–65 years, but there are also younger patients — 30–40 years old. The symptoms of this disorder can be very diverse and vary from patient to patient. Therefore, it is essential to recognize the signs of Parkinson’s at an early stage. 

One of the main symptoms is speech problems. It can be used to suspect a disease at the beginning of development. For example, a person loses the ability to speak clearly and intelligibly at a slow pace. Over time, problems of speech can worsen. Then a decrease in the ability to reason, formulate thoughts, and express emotions begin.

 

Speech Problems in Parkinson’s Disease​​

Speech problems in Parkinsons disease

With the onset of Parkinson’s, most people experience difficulties with communication. Along with this, Parkinson’s voice disorders are increasing significantly. A person begins to speak too loudly or quietly and can’t control it. These changes usually appear slowly. The voice gradually becomes hoarse, monotonous, hypophonic, and trembling. Also, in half of the cases, disorders of the articulation of the lips, tongue, and lower jaw are added. It is especially noticeable when pronouncing consonant sounds. In addition, among Parkinson’s speech problems, there are other signs:

  • voice trembling;
  • difficulty pronunciation;
  • shortness of breath during communication;
  • incomprehensible delivery of words;
  • sudden change in voice tone;
  • difficult selection of words to express thoughts.

People with Parkinson’s have low pressure in the oral cavity during the pronunciation of sounds; therefore, their speech has a lot of pauses. Such manifestations cause significant discomfort to patients and make it difficult for them to communicate with friends, relatives, and other people.

 

Speech Problem Treatment

The treatment of speech problems is poorly studied, so doctors can’t guarantee that therapy can help avoid problems with it completely. However, most studies indicate an increase in effectiveness by engaging in speech gymnastics. So, there are various additional methods of Parkinson’s speech therapy, for example:

  • teaching correct behavior;
  • use of voice amplification devices;
  • learning to distribute the power of the voice when speaking;
  • trying to take a comfortable position when communicating with others;
  • speaking more often and expressing thoughts more clearly.

All these therapies are aimed at curing Parkinson’s voice disorders. It is often done by special therapists who can use special communication devices. It helps to strengthen the speech better and speak more clearly.

 

Swallowing Problems in Parkinson’s Disease

Another critical problem of Parkinson’s is swallowing difficulty. Since the patient can’t swallow saliva normally, they can’t eat and drink usually. A piece of food does not pass through the esophagus, and liquids are even more difficult to swallow than solid pieces. Because a person with this diagnosis feels severe discomfort in the oral cavity and has a sore throat, they develop problems with digestion over time. As a result, it can lead to new diseases. 

Swallowing problems in Parkinson's disease

Swallowing leads to severe difficulties in the life of such patients, and the problem is that Parkinson’s does not have 100% of the drugs that can overcome it. Trembling of the vocal cords and weakening of their muscles leads to the fact that they can’t even calmly take medicine. Therefore, with such manifestations of symptoms, it is essential to start therapy as early as possible to avoid even more severe manifestations of Parkinson’s.

 

Swallowing Problems Treatment 

Patients must first consult a speech therapist to start complex therapy for swallowing difficulty. The doctor can analyze the severity of the problem and make recommendations for diet and exercise to improve swallowing. Treatment may include:

  • learning how to chew food and control it in the mouth properly;
  • practicing exercises to strengthen the laryngeal muscles;
  • training to prevent food and liquids from entering the trachea;
  • learning to retain food in the mouth less and to swallow it properly;

Of course, it is challenging for people with Parkinson’s to undergo such therapy because it is painful and requires a lot of effort. However, if the discomfort with swallowing is solved immediately, the patient can make their life easier and avoid the worsening of Parkinson’s.

 

Drooling in Parkinson’s Patients 

Drooling is a common non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s, which is experienced by about half of patients at various stages of the disease. It is because the muscles of the face and oral cavity do not work well, leading to a delay in swallowing. Accordingly, saliva, produced in the mouth, can’t be controlled. So, it also becomes the cause of speech problems. The patient can’t speak normally due to excessive saliva coming out of the mouth. And it causes not only life discomfort but also many physical problems. For example, the additional appearance of diseases in the oral cavity or stomach. As a result, a person becomes less capable and socially isolated due to drooling issues.

 

How to Treat Drooling

Treating drooling is quite a difficult task. There are usually not many ways to avoid this problem:

  1. Potent drugs. In most cases of Parkinson’s disease, doctors prescribe effective medications that stop drooling and improve speech. Such pills dry the excess saliva in the mouth for a particular time. Although it helps to control saliva, such drugs have many side effects. They can cause memory impairment and even lead to dementia. Also, it provokes hallucinations and urinary retention.
  2. Eye drops. It is another method of drooling treatment. Therapists may prescribe eye drops to use under the tongue. They are used twice a day to help regulate saliva production. 

Such drugs are prescribed strictly according to the prescription.

 

Parkinson’s Voice Changes

Parkinsons voice changes

Poor fine motor control associated with vocalization can lead to voice problems in people with Parkinson’s. The glottis does not close entirely, and the vocal folds bend. Such things signal the deterioration of Parkinson’s and indicate the appearance of voice disorders. They are characterized by an uncontrolled change in tone during speech. The voice can be quiet and loud and happens at any moment.

Most of these phenomena are associated with laryngeal muscle stiffness. Therefore, the early onset of voice change indicates muscular models of the disease of the articulatory apparatus. So, paying attention to such things and consulting a doctor as soon as possible is essential because it can go into an even more difficult phase. Then it becomes difficult for a person to make a voice or decide on speech problems, and the monotony of the conversation does not give an understanding of what was said.

 

How to Deal with Voice Changes

In the case of voice changes, Parkinson’s speech therapy is performed. It helps not only to speak correctly but also to control the tone of voice. Speech therapists do the following workouts with patients:

  • do a warm-up of the articulation apparatus;
  • use activities for voice problems;
  • they try to teach the patients to keep their voices at the same level;
  • use computer applications to increase or decrease the voice;
  • use special equipment for clear speech and better diction.

Parkinson’s voice disorders will gradually decrease if patients use this treatment regularly.

 

General Tips to Improve Speech in People with Parkinson’s Disease

A good therapy specialist can help you with problems of speech, but the following things are also helpful:

  1. Drink water regularly to improve vocal cords’ work.
  2. Train the facial muscles to help pronounce words better.
  3. Sing and learn poems to help express thoughts better and keep the correct pronunciation of words.
  4. Always practice speaking, not forgetting how to speak and complete sentences.
  5. Do breathing exercises to avoid pauses during a conversation.

Parkinson’s disease has many negative consequences, so it is essential to use these speech exercises regularly to prevent them.

 

Read about the best types of exercises for people with Parkinson’s disease in our other article.

 

Bottom Line 

So, identifying symptoms of Parkinson’s disease at an early stage can save you from worse consequences. The main thing is to consult a doctor who will prescribe medicine for you. It will help not only to relieve Parkinson’s speech problems but also to reduce the complexity of all other symptoms.

 

FAQs 

  • Does Parkinson’s cause speech problems?

Yes. If a person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, sooner or later, they will have speech problems. It is because this disease carries neurological issues that affect the slowing down of the articulation apparatus. It is manifested by difficult pronunciation and big pauses during a conversation.

  • What are the signs that Parkinson’s is getting worse?

When medicines do not work on a patient with Parkinson’s disease, it means that disorder worsens and moves into a severe stage. It can be in the form of severe complications with memory. Also, it’s manifested by the sudden appearance of anxiety, worsening sleep, and uncontrolled movements.

  • What happens when a Parkinson’s patient can no longer swallow?

As Parkinson’s disease progresses, swallowing problems may worsen. In this case, it is difficult for the patient to swallow the food with saliva. Because of this, food and liquids can get into the lungs and provoke the appearance of aspiration pneumonia.

  • What are speech therapy exercises?

People with speech problems due to Parkinson’s undergo therapy with a speech therapist. They perform exercises of the articulatory apparatus to develop speech. Therefore, they learn to move their tongue from side to side, from top to bottom, pronounce certain words correctly, and control speech speed.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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