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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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What causes slurred speech and numbness in the tongue?

For about 3 months now, when I eat hard foods or talk a lot (using my throat and mouth) my speech gets slurred. My tongue feels lethargic , e.g. it can t remove food from my cheeks, swallowing pills become difficult because my tongue can t move for me to swallow. A medical personnel suggested a type of seizure, since I have a history of seizures. (I haven t had a petit mal or grand mal in about 31 years). Excess stress doesn t seem to be a factor, since I have had a great deal of stress in the past couple of years. Caffeine and pain relievers do not seem to affect the frequency of flare-ups. An MRI showed no abnormalities.
Tue, 3 Apr 2018
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Internal Medicine Specialist 's  Response

Slurred speech after prolonged speech or trouble with swallowing and chewing are highly suggestive of myasthenia gravis. It is an autoimmune disease when the body immune system mistakenly targets nerve endings (acetylcholine receptors). It causes a problem with impulse conduction from nerve endings to muscles and results in muscular weakness or tiredness mostly at the end of the day. The disease usually starts with small muscle groups and causes trouble with chewing, swallowing and vision problems (double vision, drooping or falling of the upper eyelid). To diagnose the disease certain lab tests are used (acetylcholine receptor antibodies or edrophonium test and electromyography). You may also need CT scan of the chest.

Please, see your doctor get the above-mentioned lab tests to confirm the diagnosis. Myasthenia gravis is treated with medications (e.g. neostigmine, pyridostigmine) which improves nerve to muscle conduction. Surgery (thymectomy) is also used in patients who are less than 60 years old and not responding to medical therapy.

Hope I have answered your query. Let me know if I can assist you further.

Dr. Malik
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