Medical Matters > Symptoms: Slurred Speech (Dysarthria)

ME Essential Summer 2022


Can ME/CFS cause slurred speech? This is something that I occasionally have to cope with – especially when I am very feeling very tired and/or haven’t slept well and am not able to concentrate properly. Should I see my doctor about it?


When we talk, many components of the nervous system work together to form words. When these different components aren’t working correctly and together, speech can become distorted, or slurred. The medical term for slurred speech is dysarthria and it’s best defined as having trouble speaking, when words become slow or garbled, or run together.

The simple answer to your question is no. Slurred speech is not a characteristic symptom of ME/CFS. However, some people (like yourself) with ME/CFS do report that they find that their speech can become temporarily slurred when they are feeling really rough and their sleep quality and/or cognitive function is very poor. So, while this may be what is happening in your case you should still mention it to your doctor – who can take a proper history of other nervous system symptoms, examine you and arrange for other investigations, or for a second opinion from a neurologist, if necessary.

We would also point out that a new or sudden onset of slurred speech should be treated as a medical emergency, especially if there are any other symptoms that are suggestive of a stroke such as headache, or weakness or numbness on one side of the body.  Slurred speech can also occur in nervous system diseases such as migraine – which seems to be more common in ME/CFS.

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Information provided by The ME Association should not be construed as medical advice. Don't assume any new or worsened symptoms are simply the result of having ME/CFS or Long Covid. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your NHS GP as soon as possible. It is important that you seek personalised medical advice from the GP who is in charge of your care and who knows you well.

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