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Stuttering – Symptoms, Causes and other risk factors

When you have stuttering, then you cannot speak fluently. Also the flow of your speech is interrupted. This is a very common problem. This kind of problem is also known as childhood – onset fluency disorder or stammering. People who suffer from stuttering have problems with their speech. [1] They try to speak some words but they have problems when they try to say them. They can prolong or repeat a word, phrase or syllable. Also they can stop when they are speaking and they cannot make sound for some syllables. When children learn to speak, then this is normal problem for them. When they have not developed their abilities for language and speech, then they cannot say what they want. Many of them when they grow they have outgrow this problem. But there are many cases when this condition is chronic which means that adults have it. When they stutter, then they have problems with the communication with other people which can lead to low self – esteem [2]. If you are an adult and you have stuttering, then you must talk with your doctor because this problem can cause you anxiety and stress or it can affect your career, self – esteem and relationship. You should visit your doctor. He or she will refer you to speech – language pathologist. Also there are many programs which are designed about this problem. No matter if you are children or adult, you can use some treatments such as psychological counseling, speech therapy or there are electronic devices which can be given by your doctor to improve your speaking. Your doctor will tell you which the best treatment for your condition is.

Symptoms of stuttering

Here are signs and symptoms of stuttering [1,2]:

  • Limited ability to effectively communicate
  • Difficulty starting a word, sentence or phrase
  • Anxiety about talking
  • Prolonging a word or sounds within a word
  • Excess tension, tightness or movement of the face or upper body to produce a word
  • Repetition of a sound, syllable or word
  • Addition of extra words such as “um” if difficulty moving to the next word is anticipated
  • Brief silence for certain syllables or pauses within a word (broken word)

People who have this kind of problem can have also:

  • Clenching fists
  • Rapid eye blinks
  • Facial ticks
  • Tremors of the lips or jaw
  • Head jerks


This kind of problem can be worse when you are under stress, tired, exited or when you are pressured, self – conscious or hurried. When you are trying to speak on your phone or when you are trying to communicate in public with other people, then you have difficulties because you suffer from stuttering. Also there are some cases when people who suffer from this kind of problem do not stutter when they speak or sing in unison with other people or when they talk to themselves. It is a very common problem for children who are between 2 and 5 to stutter. [3] This problem for many children is part of the process of speak learning. They overgrow this period and they do not have problems in the rest of their life. If you have noticed that the stuttering begins as an adult, lasts more than six months, causes emotional problems and anxiety, occurs with other language or speech problems, affect to your ability to communicate at your work, school and becomes frequent when the children grows, then you must visit your doctor.

Causes for stuttering: There are many studies in which doctors are trying to discover which the real underlying causes for stuttering are. There can be many combinations of factors which can lead to stuttering. Here are some causes for this problem:

  • Genetics: Children who have parents who stutter are having increased risk of getting this problem. There can be genetic abnormalities in the language centers of their brains which lead to stuttering. [4]
  • Mental health problems: When you have emotional trauma, then this can lead to stuttering. [5]
  • Medical conditions: In some cases stuttering can be result from a trauma, brain injury or stroke. [6]
  • Abnormalities in speech motor control: In some cases abnormalities in speech motor control such as motor coordination, timing and sensory are a reason for stuttering.


[1] Perez HR, Stoeckle JH. Stuttering: Clinical and research update. Canadian Family Physician. 2016;62(6):479–84.

[2] Cherif L, Boudabous J, Khmakhem K, et al. Self-esteem and anxiety in stuttering children and attitude of their parents. Health Education and Care. 2018;3. doi:10.15761/HEC.1000138

[3] National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Stuttering. Retrieved from

[4] Frigerio‐Domingues C, Drayna D. Genetic contributions to stuttering: the current evidence. Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine. 2017;5(2):95–102. doi:10.1002/mgg3.276

[5] Bijleveld HA. Post-traumatic stress disorder and stuttering: a diagnostic challenge in a case study. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2015;193:37-43.

[6] Lundgren K, Helm-Estabrooks N, Klein R. Stuttering following acquired brain damage: A review of the literature. Journal of Neurolinguistics. 2010 ;23(5):447–54. doi:10.1016/j.jneuroling.2009.08.008

Hanan Marshal
Hanan Marshal
Hanan, a medical student (MBBS) having passion for writing and is very much interested in holistic living along with nature. He is very much interested in doing community service and watches anime and play PS4 during his free time. You can reach him through [email protected]


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