(Anomia, Aphasia-associated; Nominal Aphasia; Anomic Aphasia; Difficulty Naming Objects and People)
Aphasia is when a person loses the ability to communicate in words. Anomia is a problem naming objects. When you have aphasia-associated anomia, it is difficult to name people and things. Aphasia-associated anomia can be treated.
Stroke—Most Common Cause of Aphasia
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Anomia is caused by injury to the language areas of the brain. Examples of injury to the brain are:
Aphasia-associated anomia is more common in older people. Other factors that may increase your chance of aphasia-associated anomia include:
- Increasing age
- Being at risk for stroke or dementia
- Having a history of transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)
Tell your doctor if you have difficulty finding the right word when speaking and writing. For example, instead of using an exact word, you may use ambiguous or roundabout speech, such as:
- Using general descriptions instead of specifics: “that place where you sleep” for “bedroom”
- Saying what a thing does, but not what it is: “that thing you drive” for “car”
In most cases, you can understand speech and read.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A neurological examination may also be done to check brain function.
Imaging tests are used to evaluate the brain and other structures. These may include:
Other exams may include:
- Exam of muscles used in speech
- Tests to assess language skills—for example, identifying objects, defining words, and writing
In some situations, your brain activity may be need to be measured. This can be done with an electroencephalogram (EEG).
You may be referred to a neurologist. This is a doctor who specializes in diseases of the nervous system.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
The speech therapist will help you to:
- Preserve the language skills you have
- Try to restore those you have lost
- Discover new ways of communicating
Therapy may occur one-on-one or in a group. Activities may include:
- Using flash cards with pictures and words to help you name objects
- Repeating words back to the therapist
- Working with computer programs designed to improve speech, hearing, reading, and writing
Family Care and Counseling
You will learn how to apply the lessons learned in speech therapy to your life. Counseling can help you to adjust to returning home. It can also help your family learn ways to better communicate with you.
Since stroke is a common cause of aphasia, follow these guidelines to help prevent stroke:
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Limit salt and fat in your diet.
- If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how to successfully quit.
- If you drink, do so in moderation. Moderation is 2 or less drinks per day for men and 1 or less drinks per day for women.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Control your blood pressure.
- Ask your doctor if you should take low-dose aspirin.
- Properly treat and control chronic conditions, like diabetes.
If you have signs of a stroke, call for emergency medical services right away.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov
Brain Injury Association of Alberta http://www.biaa.ca/
Accessed May 17, 2013.
Aphasia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
Updated September 2, 2012. Accessed May 17, 2013.
Aphasia. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders website. Available at:
Updated October 2008. Accessed May 17, 2013.
Kirshner HS. Aphasia and aphasic syndromes. In: Bradley WG, Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, eds. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Butterworth Heniemann Elsevier; 2008: 141-160.
Last Updated: 5/7/2014