Speech and Swallowing


Speech difficulties of some kind affect between 40 and 50 per cent of people with MS. However, for most people, changes in speech are mild and do not prevent them from being understood.

Speech difficulties can come and go through the day, perhaps lasting only a few minutes at a time, and may be a symptom that appears during a relapse. Many people find practical ways to manage these changes, often working with a speech and language therapist to find techniques that help.

If problems last longer and affect communication more strongly, there may be gadgets and equipment suggested by a speech and language therapist that can help, as well as strategies to help you adapt to the changes.


MS can cause swallowing difficulties – also known as ‘dysphagia’. Between 30 and 40 per cent of people with MS experience difficulties with swallowing at some time, though for some people, changes are so small that they are hardly aware of them. Picking up these small changes to swallowing can help avoid possible complications.

Just like any other MS symptom, swallowing difficulties may come and go. For example, temporary changes in swallowing can happen during a relapse and improve, or disappear completely, over time.

For others, swallowing can become more difficult in the long term. However long symptoms last, there are practical things that can help you manage the changes effectively, and make swallowing as comfortable and easy as possible.

Health care professionals, including speech and language therapists, can help diagnose problems and find the best treatments with you, but there are also techniques that you, your family or carers can learn to help with swallowing. 

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