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Stammering: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jun 13, 2022

What is the treatment?

Stammering also called stuttering is a person’s inability to speak a word or letter with a flow. It is an involuntary interruption in speech encountered while speaking words beginning with or sound like b, d, g, k, p, and t. It is accompanied by a red face, blinking of eyes, and tremor of jaws while speaking. Although most common among small children between 3 to 7 years of age, it is also likely to persist in 1 out of 100 adults if not taken care of. Although stammering is a physical condition, there is no proper medication for stammering. The best way to overcome is through speech therapy.

Person or children suffering from stammering could also develop some psychological conditions such as feeling ashamed and embarrassed; in those cases, it is best to boost confidence by providing a relaxed environment without being judgmental. In very extreme cases, intense psychological therapy is needed. There are also a lot of physical condition that accompanies stammering such as jaw ache, shortness of breath and tiredness due to excess workload on mind and body. Generally, these physical conditions are not treated specifically but it is always important to maintain a healthy and protein-rich diet to provide ample energy to the mind and body.

What are the symptoms of Stammering?

Stammering is a speech-related disorder. It affects normal fluency of speech. It begins in childhood but may persist longer till adulthood. It affects the individual psychologically as well as socially and has a negative impact on his/her self-esteem. Some of the symptoms of stammering may include:

  • Difficulty in saying a word or sentence
  • Repeating a word or syllable
  • Pausing while saying a particular word
  • Facing anxiety while talking
  • Inability to communicate effectively
  • Expression of tension or tightness while producing a word
  • Upper body or face movement while trying to speak a particular word
Summary: Stammering is a speech-related abnormality that affects the normal fluency of the speech. It poses a negative impact on the self-esteem of the individual, affecting him/her psychologically and socially.

What causes Stammering?

Stammering is a neurological disorder affecting normal fluency of speech. Some of the important causes for stammering include the following:

  • Abnormal neurological changes: Certain abnormal changes within the brain cause physical difficulties in talking such as stammering.
  • Genetic causes: In most cases, stammering is inherited genetically. Approximately 60 percent of cases develop due to this reason.
  • Gender cause: Based on research, it has been found that among the people who stammer. Around 75 percent of the population are males.
  • Developmental stammering: In some cases, stammering initiates during childhood. Such conditions are known as developmental stammering.
Summary: Causes of stammering mainly involve neurological changes within the brain. Other related factors responsible for the condition may include heredity, gender factor, etc.

How is Stammering diagnosed?

The diagnosis of stammering is an important step. Steps involved in it mainly include:

  • Examination of the patient: This mainly involves a detailed analysis of the patient's stuttering behaviors.
  • Patient’s case history: This step includes considering certain points such as when and under which circumstances the condition was initiated.
  • Evaluation of patient’s speech: This includes a proper evaluation of the patient’s speech and language abilities.
Summary: The diagnosis of stammering is done under the supervision of a well-trained speech-language pathologist. Proper examination of the patient's stuttering behaviors and evaluation of the symptoms are important aspects involved.

How is the treatment done?

Stammering is very common among young children between 3 to 7 years and it also goes away with age without treatment. However, in case of elongated and prolonged stammering especially during teenage requires proper care and treatment. A speech and language therapist (SLT) is the best person to treat stammering. Though the whole treatment is based on physical exercise and everyday therapy that can be done at home, it is advisable to consult a therapist before starting the procedure. The reason being the different types of stammering and different therapy that is effective for that particular stammering.

A good speech therapist will recommend you to concentrate both on physical exercises for strengthening the organs such as tongue, lips, jaw and lungs along with speech therapy. One of the best way to overcome stammering is to provide the person a relax and friendly environment where he/she doesn’t feel hesitated to speak. Boosting confidence is also very effective in overcoming psychological conditions related to stammering such as frustration, embarrassment and shame. Focusing on controlled breathing also helps in treating stammering. Some effective speech therapy includes speaking slowly and calmly, repeating the words where you stammer and the vowels A, E, I, O, U and singing. Last but not the least is to add nutrition to your diet especially those minerals that boost mental alertness.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Although it is very common among young children, the treatment is only for those children who are not overcoming it even after 10 years. In some cases, when the stammering is more than normal for small children, it is advisable to consult a speech therapist whether or not the child needs treatment. The treatment is generally done after 7 or 8 years which can last for a few months or can go up to a couple of years and more.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

All those children who are below age 6 don’t require the treatment for stammering as it is also a part of child’s development. Similar to the process of crawling before walking, almost every child has stammering in the initial stage before developing proper speech. So it is not advisable to treat small children for stammering.

How to prevent Stammering?

Stammering is a neurological abnormality that is incurable in most cases. However, some preventive measures are there to manage such conditions. Some of them include:

  • Speaking slowly: This is an effective way to reduce stuttering.
  • Practicing in a safe environment: The affected individual should be made to sit with a close family member and friend. Talking in such a safe and comfortable environment eases stuttering.
  • Practicing meditation: Practicing mindfulness which is a specific form of meditation, is beneficial in such conditions as it relaxes the mind and reduces anxiety.
  • Recording the voice: One should record his/her voice and listen carefully to it. This helps to improve the condition.
Summary: A complete cure for speech disorders like stuttering is yet to be discovered. But one can adopt certain preventive measures to control and manage the symptoms.

Can Stammering go away on its own?

Stammering is the dysfluency in speech, related to neurological causes. In most cases, it initiates in childhood while in some cases it persists till adulthood.

It cannot be cured. However, there are certain cases in which stuttering continues to persist for longer. Effective therapies are used in the treatment of such conditions.

Summary: Stuttering in most cases resolves on its own when the child reaches the age of five years. But it may persist longer till adulthood in some cases. Treatment is needed in such conditions.

When should Stammering be a concern?

Stuttering is a developmental neurological abnormality. In some cases, it gets resolved itself when the child reaches the age of five years while it is continued till adulthood in some.

Stuttering is not a concern usually, however, in certain conditions it can become serious and may require urgent medical care and treatment. Such symptoms which indicate emergency medical consultation include:

  • Presence of fear of talking along with stuttering.
  • The child is not talking at all.
  • The affected child develops problems in school.
  • Symptoms of stuttering last for more than six months.
Summary: Stammering is usually not a serious concern, but it can be so in some cases. These cases are accompanied by symptoms like fear of talking to the child.

Are there any side effects?

As the treatment is based on therapy and doesn’t include any medication, there are no possible side effects of the treatment. However, if the psychological therapy is not yielding result over a long period of time it can further affect the mental health in a negative way.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Stammering is not a chronic disease but it can show slightest of possible occurrence in negligible amount in your speech. As for the post treatment guidelines, there is none except to continue with the therapy everyday and reducing it slowly rather than ending abruptly. Another important point to keep in mind is that it is not a disease but a condition, so practicing speech therapy often even after overcoming stammering is also recommended by many practitioners.

How long does it take to recover?

the treatment of stammering is a slow and gradual process. Minor stammering or stuttering can be treated in a couple of months through speech therapy. However, major stammering requires a lot more time to be treated completely. The speech therapy along with psychological therapy can start from 3 months and can last up to a year or two and even more.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

the price of the treatment in India varies greatly depending on the city. In small cities the consultation starts at INR 200 per visit as compared to metropolitan cities where the consultation stats at INR 500. Some of the leading speech specialist can charge a whopping INR 2000 per visit. The Indian government also has free speech therapies clinic for minorities and backward classes.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of the treatment are mostly permanent. However, in negligible cases it shows the tendency of coming back which can be treated by continuing the therapy. If the therapy is effective and is continued for some time even after overcoming stammering, the chances of this disorder coming back is nearly impossible.

What to eat in Stammering?

The relationship between diet and stammering is still under research as there is no such direct evidence to prove it. However, it is preferred to have healthy and nutritious food in such conditions so as to ensure essential vitamins and minerals in the body.

Important food items to be taken during neurological disorders like stammering may include:

  • Food stitch in healthy carbohydrates.
  • Fiber-rich food items.
  • Foods rich in healthy and good fats.
  • Essential protein sources.
Summary: Although there is no direct evidence that can prove any relation between diet and stuttering, it is important to make a healthy and nutritious diet in such conditions. It should consist of essential proteins, healthy fats, carbohydrates, fibers, etc.

What not to eat in Stammering?

There are certain food items that act as allergens or allergy-causing substances. These can make the symptoms worse. These foods irritate the respiratory pathway, causing distress or anxiety. Some of the food items to be avoided may include:

  • Milk or milk products: These food items may cause excessive bloating.
  • Hot and spicy foods: These result in gastrointestinal acid reflux.
  • Packaged and processed food items: This may worsen bloating and gastrointestinal acid reflux.
  • Fried and deep-fried food items
Summary: Although diet has no proven relationship with neurological disorders like stuttering, one should avoid such food items which may worsen the condition. Such food items may include milk or milk products, foods causing acid reflux, etc.

Physical Exercises for the people suffering from Stammering:

Physical exercises are beneficial for individuals who suffer from stuttering. These may help to minimize the symptoms and also prevent the worsening of the conditions. Such exercises are mainly based upon relaxation and breathing techniques that calm the mind. Some of the exercise forms preferred against stuttering include:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing exercises.
  • Progressive relaxation exercises.
  • Light articulatory contact exercise.
  • Speaking while exhaling exercises.
  • Pausing and phrasing exercises.
Summary: Physical exercises are important for people suffering from stammering. These exercises include mindfulness and breathing exercises that help to relax or calm the mind.

Is there any medicine to stop stammering?

Although there have not been any medications that can cure stuttering, certain medicines are known to treat the condition. These medicines have dopamine-blocking activity and show the most efficacy to manage the condition. Some important medicines which effectively control the stuttering-related symptoms may include:

  • Alprazolam: This is an anti-anxiety drug.
  • Citalopram: It belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor group of medicines.
  • Clomipramine: It belongs to the serotonergic group of medicines.
Summary: No medicine is known till now which can completely cure stammering. However, there are some which can help in the management of the condition and those include anti-anxiety and serotonergic drugs.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

As for alternatives, there is none better than motivational courses. However, there are many people who prefer going under the knife for tongue surgery in order to treat stammering. Other non surgical alternatives for stammering include acupuncture, chiropratic treatment and electroshock.

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Written ByDrx Hina FirdousPhD (Pharmacology) Pursuing, M.Pharma (Pharmacology), B.Pharma - Certificate in Nutrition and Child CarePharmacology
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Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician
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