Anomic Aphasia: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Outlook (2022)

Anomic aphasia is a language disorder that leads to trouble naming objects when speaking and writing. Brain damage caused by stroke, traumatic injury, or tumors can lead to anomic aphasia.

Anomic aphasia goes by several other names, like anomia, amnesic aphasia, and anomic dysphasia.

People with this language disorder often feel they have words on the tip of their tongue. They can still otherwise speak fluently and grammatically correctly. They may have particular trouble with nouns and verbs.

In this article, we’re going to cover the causes of anomic aphasia, risk factors, and potential treatment options.

Anomic aphasia is milder than most other types of aphasia. It’s usually caused by damage to your brain’s left hemisphere. In rare cases, it may be a result of right hemisphere damage.

The left side of the brain controls language and speech for most right-handed people, and the right side of the brain often controls speech for most left-handed people. Most types of aphasia include anomia in their symptoms.

Other types of aphasia, like Broca’s aphasia or Wernicke’s aphasia, are caused by damage to very specific parts of your brain that control speech.

However, anomic aphasia is known as a non-focal brain disease, meaning it isn’t always caused by obvious damage to a specific region of the brain.

Here are some of the potential causes of anomic aphasia.

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Stroke

Stroke is the most common cause of anomic aphasia. When a blood vessel in your brain is blocked, your brain tissue doesn’t receive oxygen. This can cause permanent brain damage near the site of the stroke.

Brain injury

A traumatic brain injury may lead to permanent damage and anomic aphasia, particularly if the damage is in the left hemisphere. Some common causes of brain injury are vehicle collisions, falls, sports injuries, and assaults.

Brain tumor

Brain tumors can cause many different types of symptoms, including anomic aphasia. The severity of symptoms may get worse as the tumor grows and causes pressure against your brain.

Neurodegenerative disease

Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia commonly cause symptoms of anomia in the early stages. It’s thought that these diseases cause problems accessing your lexical of learned words.

Strokes are one of the leading causes of aphasia. Factors that increase the risk of developing a stroke can also increase your risk of developing aphasia. These factors include the following.

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • smoking
  • family history of stroke
  • sex (males have a higher risk)
  • having overweight
  • alcohol misuse

Can stress cause anomic aphasia?

Stress doesn’t directly cause anomic aphasic. However, living with chronic stress may increase your risk of having a stroke that can lead to anomic aphasia. However, if you have anomic aphasia, your symptoms may be more noticeable during times of stress.

Learn strategies for how to cope with stress.

Is anomic aphasia a sign of autism?

People with autism often have problems communicating with other people. They may have symptoms similar to the symptoms of anomic aphasia, but at this time, research doesn’t link anomic aphasia to autism.

Anomic aphasia vs. Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease can cause a form of aphasia called primary progressive aphasia. This type of aphasia involves a breakdown of the tissues in the parts of your brain needed for speech, which can lead to symptoms of anomic aphasia.

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People with anomic aphasia often forget verbs, nouns, and pronouns when speaking or writing. They may frequently use nonspecific words such as “it” or “thing.” They may be able to describe the function of an object but not be able to remember the name.

Here are some of the types of anomic aphasia.

Word selection anomia

People with word selection anomia can recognize objects but usually can’t come up with the name, even with prompting. For example, if somebody with word selection anomia saw a pencil, they would know that you can use it to write but wouldn’t know what it’s called.

Word production anomia

People with this form of anomic aphasia can’t produce the name for an object. However, they may feel like the word is on the tip of their tongue and may recognize the correct word with cueing.

Semantic anomia

People with semantic anomia can’t identify an object even when given the correct name. For example, if somebody with semantic anomic was shown the word “screwdriver,” they wouldn’t be able to pick out a screwdriver out of a list of tools.

Disconnection anomia

Disconnection anomia is subdivided into three subcategories: category-specific anomia, modality-specific anomia, and callosal anomia.

Category-specific anomia

Category-specific anomia is an inability to identify one category of objects, such as animals or body parts. It’s common for people with category-specific anomia to have trouble with color identification.

Modality-specific anomia

People with modality-specific anomia have trouble identifying objects with a specific sense such as sight or touch.

Callosal anomia

People with callosal anomia have trouble transmitting information between hemispheres of their brain.

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The left hemisphere of your brain is primarily responsible for controlling the production and comprehension of language. It’s also responsible for sensations on the right side of your body, while the right hemisphere of your brain is responsible for sensation on the left side of your body.

A person with callosal anomia holding a hammer in their right hand wouldn’t have trouble identifying it since the sensory information comes from the left side of the brain. If they held it in their left hand, they may have trouble identifying it because sensory information has to travel from their right hemisphere to their left hemisphere for language processing.

If your doctor suspects that you have anomic aphasia, they’ll likely send you to receive a series of verbal and brain imaging tests. These tests help eliminate other brain disorders like anarthria or other types of aphasia that may have similar symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend a hearing test to rule out hearing problems.

Imaging tests like an MRI look for brain damage. Anomic aphasia isn’t caused by damage to a consistent part of the left hemisphere so diagnosis is difficult through brain imagining alone.

Verbal tests aim to find out if the problem is with language comprehension or production. Many types of aphasia cause anomia, but the diagnosis for anomic aphasia is only given if the symptoms of other aphasias aren’t present.

Treatment options for anomic aphasia are similar to the treatment options of other types of aphasia. Some of the more common treatment options include:

(Video) Aphasia | Types (Broca’s, Wernicke’s, Global), Causes, Signs & Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Speech therapy

Speech therapy is a common treatment option for people with anomic aphasia and can lead to improvements. Speech therapy helps you regain a degree of speech abilities and find alternative ways to communicate.

Visual action therapy

Visual action therapy uses nonverbal methods to help people learn gestures to indicate that an object is missing. It may be used as a treatment option for people with global aphasia, which includes the symptoms of anomic aphasia.

Anomic aphasia therapy activities

Anomia treatment may include activities designed to help you come up with a missing word.

Self-administered exercises using smart tablets may help people with anomic aphasia improve their verb recall. More research needs to be performed to confirm the effectiveness of this treatment option, but early research looks promising.

Anomic aphasia is one of the mildest forms of aphasia. Specific recovery times depend on the extent of brain damage and the cause of the aphasia. If brain damage is permanent, a person with anomic aphasia may never regain their full language function.

According to the National Aphasia Association, if symptoms of aphasia last longer than 2 to 3 months after a stroke, a full recovery may not be possible. Though, some people can see improvements for years after the initial incident.

People with anomic aphasia may be able to return to work if they have mild symptoms or if they have a job that doesn’t lean heavily on verbal communication.

Takeaway

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Anomic aphasia causes problems in naming objects when speaking and writing. However, it’s one of the mildest forms of aphasia, and there are treatments that can help.

If you think you or somebody you know is dealing with anomic aphasia, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis to rule out similar disorders. A doctor will also be able to recommend the best treatment options.

FAQs

How is anomic aphasia diagnosed? ›

If your doctor suspects that you have anomic aphasia, they'll likely send you to receive a series of verbal and brain imaging tests. These tests help eliminate other brain disorders like anarthria or other types of aphasia that may have similar symptoms.

Is anomic aphasia curable? ›

No method is available to completely cure anomic aphasia. However, treatments can help improve word-finding skills.

Is anomic aphasia permanent? ›

An anomic aphasia prognosis depends on the extent of the damage. Although this is considered a mild form of aphasia, the brain damage can be permanent, and the person may never fully recover.

What are the main features of anomic aphasia? ›

Anomic aphasia is characterized by a pervasive impairment of word finding, which contrasts with intact repetition and speech that is fluent, well articulated, and grammatically correct.

How do you fix anomic aphasia? ›

Early we discussed what Anomic Aphasia was and how it creates communication difficulties for those who struggle with this speech disorder. While there are several different methods of therapy for those with anomic aphasia, speech therapy is thought to be the most common and effective method.

Can stress and anxiety cause aphasia? ›

The answer is no. There are several common and possible causes of aphasia, however anxiety is not among them. At the same time, anxiety often occurs after strokes, and it is commonly seen in people with aphasia. It's not at all surprising that many people wonder about the connection between anxiety and aphasia.

What part of the brain causes anomic aphasia? ›

Anomic aphasia is typically caused by damage to the left hemisphere of the brain, the control center for speech and language. In some rare cases, anomia can be caused by damage to the right hemisphere of the brain. Additionally, there are different types of anomic aphasia that each present with different symptoms.

Does aphasia get worse over time? ›

As it's a primary progressive condition, the symptoms get worse over time. Usually, the first problem people with primary progressive aphasia (PPA) notice is difficulty finding the right word or remembering somebody's name.

What is the prognosis of aphasia? ›

The prognosis for aphasia recovery depends in large part upon the underlying etiology. This has been best studied in cerebrovascular disease. Most patients with poststroke aphasia improve to some extent [1-4,14,15]. Most improvement occurs within the first few months and plateaus after one year.

Can you get aphasia without a stroke? ›

Aphasia usually happens suddenly after a stroke or a head injury. But it can also come on gradually from a slow-growing brain tumor or a disease that causes progressive, permanent damage (degenerative). The severity of aphasia depends on a number of things, including the cause and the extent of the brain damage.

Can you fully recover from aphasia? ›

Some people with aphasia recover completely without treatment. But for most people, some amount of aphasia typically remains. Treatments such as speech therapy can often help recover some speech and language functions over time, but many people continue to have problems communicating.

Can people with anomic aphasia read? ›

People with anomic aphasia understand speech well and they can repeat words and sentences. In most cases they can read adequately. Difficulty finding words is as evident in writing as it is in speech.

Is anomic aphasia mild? ›

Anomic aphasia is a mild form of aphasia in which the individual has difficulty with word-finding, or naming items. In anomic aphasia, speech is typically fluent and produced with seeming ease. However, the individual might have trouble retrieving specific words, especially nouns and verbs.

Can medications cause anomic aphasia? ›

Aphasia can also result from degenerative diseases, seizure disorders, or medication usage.

What are the stages of aphasia? ›

Navigating The Primary Progressive Aphasia Stages
  • Early-Stage Primary Progressive Aphasia. The early stages of PPA are often subtle, and the symptoms are sometimes missed. ...
  • Middle-Stage Primary Progressive Aphasia. ...
  • Late-Stage Primary Progressive Aphasia. ...
  • How To Live With Primary Progressive Aphasia.
31 Mar 2022

What can be mistaken for aphasia? ›

It is important to distinguish these related disorders from aphasia because the treatment(s) and prognosis of each disorder are different.
  • Apraxia. A collective term used to describe impairment in carrying out purposeful movements. ...
  • Apraxia of Speech. ...
  • Brain Trauma. ...
  • Dysarthria. ...
  • Dysphagia. ...
  • Dementia. ...
  • Stroke.

Is aphasia a diagnosis or a symptom? ›

It's a symptom of damage to the parts of the brain that control language. The signs of aphasia depend on which part of the brain is damaged. There are four main types of aphasia: Expressive aphasia is when you know what you want to say, but you have trouble saying or writing your thoughts.

Why do I have trouble thinking of words? ›

Everyone can experience word-finding difficulty or that “tip-of-the-tongue” sensation. This is normal and becomes more prominent with age. It can worsen when people feel anxious, excited, depressed or even sleep deprived. Those situations are not classified as aphasia.

At what age do people get aphasia? ›

Primary progressive aphasia (uh-FAY-zhuh) is a rare nervous system (neurological) syndrome that affects your ability to communicate. People who have it can have trouble expressing their thoughts and understanding or finding words. Symptoms begin gradually, often before age 65, and worsen over time.

Why do I forget words when speaking? ›

It is not necessarily a sign of something serious*, but more of an occasional brain glitch. Scientists have found that some things make TOTs more common – such as caffeine, fatigue, and strong emotions – and that words learned later in life are more likely to be forgotten.

Why do I trip over my words? ›

Anxiety, especially if it crops up when you're in front of a lot of people, can lead to dry mouth, stumbling over your words, and more troubles that can get in the way of speaking. It's OK to be nervous. Don't worry so much about being perfect. Taking that pressure off of yourself might get your words flowing again.

Is aphasia a terminal? ›

Primary progressive aphasia worsens over time. Many people with PPA eventually lose their language skills over many years, limiting their ability to communicate. Most people who have the condition live up to 12 years after their initial diagnosis.

Can you drive a car with aphasia? ›

Conclusions : Despite difficulties with road sign recognition and related reading and auditory comprehension, people with aphasia are driving, including some whose communication loss is severe.

How does a person with aphasia feel? ›

People with aphasia are often frustrated and confused because they can't speak as well or understand things the way they did before their stroke. They may act differently because of changes in their brain. Imagine looking at the headlines of the morning newspaper and not being able to recognize the words.

What is it like to live with aphasia? ›

Essentially, aphasia robs you of your language skills, taking your ability to read, write, or speak. Losing the ability to express yourself leaves you effectively locked inside your own head. It impairs your ability to meaningfully interact with others — an essential ingredient to quality of life.

Can you recover from mild aphasia? ›

Patients can recover from aphasia spontaneously, on their own without treatment, in a mild case. There is no guaranteed cure. The purpose of speech therapy is help the patient fully utilize the remaining skills and to learn compensatory skills.

Does aphasia affect longevity? ›

For example, if aphasia is due to Alzheimer's disease, the aphasia itself does not affect longevity, but Alzheimer's patients have an average life expectancy from 3 to 10 years.

Which aphasia has the best prognosis? ›

Conclusions: Patients with Broca's aphasia appear to have the best prognosis for improvement of language function in the first year of stroke.

Where is anomic aphasia located? ›

Anomic aphasia is typically caused by damage to the left hemisphere of the brain, the control center for speech and language. In some rare cases, anomia can be caused by damage to the right hemisphere of the brain. Additionally, there are different types of anomic aphasia that each present with different symptoms.

What is mild anomic aphasia? ›

Anomic aphasia is a mild form of aphasia in which the individual has difficulty with word-finding, or naming items. In anomic aphasia, speech is typically fluent and produced with seeming ease. However, the individual might have trouble retrieving specific words, especially nouns and verbs.

Can people with anomic aphasia read? ›

People with anomic aphasia understand speech well and they can repeat words and sentences. In most cases they can read adequately. Difficulty finding words is as evident in writing as it is in speech.

Can you get aphasia without a stroke? ›

Aphasia usually happens suddenly after a stroke or a head injury. But it can also come on gradually from a slow-growing brain tumor or a disease that causes progressive, permanent damage (degenerative). The severity of aphasia depends on a number of things, including the cause and the extent of the brain damage.

Does aphasia get worse over time? ›

As it's a primary progressive condition, the symptoms get worse over time. Usually, the first problem people with primary progressive aphasia (PPA) notice is difficulty finding the right word or remembering somebody's name.

Can medications cause anomic aphasia? ›

Aphasia can also result from degenerative diseases, seizure disorders, or medication usage.

What are 4 causes of aphasia? ›

Aphasia is caused by damage to the language-dominant side of the brain, usually the left side, and may be brought on by:
  • Stroke.
  • Head injury.
  • Brain tumor.
  • Infection.
  • Dementia.

Can you see aphasia on an MRI? ›

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans can help diagnose primary progressive aphasia, detect shrinking of certain areas of the brain and show which area of the brain might be affected. MRI scans can also detect strokes, tumors or other conditions that affect brain function.

Why do I struggle to get my words out sometimes? ›

Feeling Tired or Stressed. Simply being tired or fatigued can make it hard to think of the right words. And when you're worried about being judged by others or feel embarrassed, you may freeze up or struggle to talk.

Does aphasia affect driving? ›

Conclusions : Despite difficulties with road sign recognition and related reading and auditory comprehension, people with aphasia are driving, including some whose communication loss is severe.

What are the stages of aphasia? ›

Navigating The Primary Progressive Aphasia Stages
  • Early-Stage Primary Progressive Aphasia. The early stages of PPA are often subtle, and the symptoms are sometimes missed. ...
  • Middle-Stage Primary Progressive Aphasia. ...
  • Late-Stage Primary Progressive Aphasia. ...
  • How To Live With Primary Progressive Aphasia.
31 Mar 2022

How does a person get aphasia? ›

Aphasia is caused by damage to one or more of the language areas of the brain. Most often, the cause of the brain injury is a stroke. A stroke occurs when a blood clot or a leaking or burst vessel cuts off blood flow to part of the brain.

Why can't I think of words when I'm talking? ›

PPA is caused by degeneration in the parts of the brain that are responsible for speech and language. PPA begins very gradually and initially is experienced as difficulty thinking of common words while speaking or writing. PPA progressively worsens to the point where verbal communication by any means is very difficult.

What is the prognosis for aphasia? ›

The prognosis for aphasia recovery depends in large part upon the underlying etiology. This has been best studied in cerebrovascular disease. Most patients with poststroke aphasia improve to some extent [1-4,14,15]. Most improvement occurs within the first few months and plateaus after one year.

How fast does aphasia progress? ›

Primary progressive aphasia worsens over time. Many people with PPA eventually lose their language skills over many years, limiting their ability to communicate. Most people who have the condition live up to 12 years after their initial diagnosis. Eventually, many people need daily support with their usual activities.

How serious is aphasia? ›

Aphasia is a sign of damage or serious disruptions in your brain. Most conditions that cause aphasia are severe, and some are life-threatening medical emergencies.

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