Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

If you are looking for help with understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome generally please look on the navigation bar for the many other CFS articles on this website.
The article below aims specifically to raise understanding of the speech problems that are sometimes experienced by a person with CFS.

Loss of speech

Loss of speech is a possible symptom for someone with severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

I found it difficult to speak for over 10 years when living with the illness, severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis /CFS.
If I do not have a suitable environment in which to pace out my cognitive activity, it is still difficult for me to talk normally.

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Contents for "Understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Loss of Speech"

Please scroll down to read these items in order.

  • Which CFS symptoms are associated with loss of speech?
  • Other communication problems with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Medical terms related to loss of speech
  • Other articles on this healing website relevant to understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
  • Other articles on this healing website relevant to loss of speech

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A blog by someone with CFS/ME

Please note that this CFS article is largely based on my personal experience.
Also, the symptoms of a person with CFS/ME can vary significantly and may not include speech loss.

I have a friend with Lyme Disease who experiences loss of speech and problems with comprehension. It is possible that I too have Lyme (see an article on "CFS - what else could it be?").
It is possible that the communication symptoms I experience are a consequence of Lyme or of environmental illness.
Either way, I know that these cognitive symptoms are experienced by others who, like myself, live with a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Which CFS symptoms are associated with loss of speech?

Understanding loss of speech Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

When trying to understand the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptom of speech loss, it helps to identify which other symptoms may be contributing to the problem. This understanding provides clues about how to help the person with CFS to manage their communication problems.

Speech problems can be related to several potential groups of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms:

  • Fatigue / Depletion
    It is not only physical activity which aggravates the symptom of fatigue or depletion. Speech is also an activity. Understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome MUST include understanding the need to pace out activity. This includes the need to pace out the periods of times you spend talking and listening.
  • Blood sugar levels.
    A drop in blood sugar leads to reduced concentration. This can lead to problems or greater problems with speech.
    Manage your diet to maintain blood sugar levels.
  • Cognitive difficulties
    Loss of speech is one of the ‘cognitive difficulties’ I experienced as a symptom of severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
    Research whether your diet is good for brain health.
    Consider taking natural health supplements.
  • Migraine type headaches
    I had migraine type headaches. It felt ‘painful to bring out speech as though I had to push through the pain to do so.

    The worse the head pain, the harder it became to speak.
    The harder it became to speak, the more the head pain was likely to be aggravated by the attempt to speak or understand.
    The worse the head pain, the longer it took to recover from forcing myself to speak.
  • Sensory overload
    Difficulty speaking was also related for me with the CFS symptom of ‘sensory overload’. I didn't cope well with noise and movement.
    The more quiet and still it was the more I was able to speak.
    Some people with CFS have light sensitivity.
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
    My physical communication difficulties were affected by Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.
    It felt like exposure to certain products ‘messed with’ the chemicals in my brain and made it difficult to talk, and difficult to take in other people's words.
  • Electrical Sensitivity
    Thankfully, not everyone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has symptoms from using electricity.

    For me the symptoms of ES, when I get them, include loss of speech. I speak and my voice sounds husky or only certain words come out. It sounds similar to having a bad sore throat, only I have no pain in the throat area.
    The loss of speech is temporary, but very inconvenient. The main times it happens is when I am speaking into a phone,
    dictaphone, or microphone - the times when speech is essential!
    The solution for me is to reduce general exposure to
    electricity as much as possible and reduce exposure to specific electrical equipment to short bursts. I rarely use a mobile phone. I use grounding products when I am using the computer and a grounding sheet for when I am sleeping.
  • Mould / Mold
    Some people have problems with speech due to sensitivity to other environmental factors such as mould. (A sensitivity  to mould /mold is one possible environmental cause of CFS/ME symptoms.)
  • Overactive stress response
    The symptoms of an overactive stress response include a loss of ability to concentrate, irritability, and fatigue.
    Anxiety, nervous illness, general anxiety disorder (GAD)
    , or going through a period of stress can all aggravate any speech problems.

Understanding other problems with loss of speech experienced by someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

The following are not the symptoms which lead to speech loss for me, but may be for others.

  • Brain fog
    Brain fog may lead me to struggle to access a word I am looking for, but with a break I will find the word again.
    For other people, the common Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptom of brain fog may be the main reason why they have speech problems.
    Some people with CFS/ME have symptoms of slurred speech and loss of memory. These symptoms can lead them to experience a loss of speech.
  • Sore throat
    A continual and severe sore throat may be experienced among the viral type symptoms that can accompany Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This leads some people with CFS/ME to lose their voice.
  • Muscle fatigue in the throat muscles
    CFS/ME can lead to muscle fatigue throughout the body. The muscles involved in speech may be affected and therefore only able to cope with occasional speech.

Understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - additional communication problems

A reduced ability to communicate due to speech and comprehension problems is further aggravated if the person has a limited ability to move. This restricts other means of communication, such as writing, typing, sign language or reaching out to touch someone.

I couldn’t write due to muscle fatigue in the fingers and arms. Writing and typing were minimal for me.

As well as losing the ability to speak normally, people with CFS may also have communication problems due to finding it hard to comprehend speech from another person.

Understanding medical terms related to loss of speech

Communication problems are a symptom also experienced by those who have had a stroke or brain injury.
This can be called aphasia (more severe) or dysphasia.
The advice for aphasia is the closest match for me with the communication difficulties I experience with severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I remember the relief when I read an article in which someone else described the help I needed.

When I told my Doctor that I sometimes lose my voice when speaking on electrical devices, he wrote down that I had dysphonia.

Dysarthria is difficulty speaking caused by brain damage or brain changes later in life.
The illness ME affects the brain and the muscles.
Some of you with difficulty speaking due to illness may relate to the symptoms of those with dysarthria.
If so, you might want to investigate whether a SPECT scan might be helpful.
In the UK (where I live), you will probably need to pay privately for
a SPECT scan. I would love to have one done, but they are expensive.


Please know that sometimes in this article I have referred to a symptom as though it is firmly in the past, when it is a lesser symptom than it used to be. I am not ashamed of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms I experience. But I don't like the idea of people reading them out and affirming that these are the symptoms I have.
I like to leave the door open for them being the symptoms I USED TO HAVE. :-)

In 2008, I experienced significant improvement from very severe CFS.
At that time I regained much of my speech.
ME/CFS is an illness which is very circumstance dependent. I now have better circumstances and the CFS symptoms of speech problems and comprehension problems are thankfully dramatically reduced.
There are still however many times when I can't speak in the way I would like.

Articles relevant to understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
    Please also look at the navigation bar to find a list of articles for understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

    If you are here on behalf of a family member or friend with this chronic illness, thank you so much for wanting to understand :-)

Articles on this healing website relevant to loss of speech

What can you do if you are the person who finds it difficult to talk?
Sadly I have no magic solutions, but click through on that link for a CFS article in which I give
sympathy and a little advice.

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