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Receptive Aphasia


Alexic anomia happens when you lose your ability to understand written words. You can no longer read and name words. This is a type of receptive aphasia, which is a language disorder that involves difficulty understanding spoken or written language. It is caused by the brain not functioning correctly. This is a serious condition that may change over time, depending on the cause.

Stroke—Most Common Cause of Alexic Anomia
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Alexic anomia is caused by damage to the language areas of the brain, for example:

Risk Factors

Alexic anomia is more common in older people. Other factors that may increase your chance of alexic anomia include:


Symptoms include:

  • Inability to read with understanding
  • Ability to write, but not read what you have written


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A neurological examination and tests may also be done to check brain function.

Imaging tests are used to evaluate the brain and other structures. These may include:

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 plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

  • Speech-language therapy—to help you use your ability to communicate, regain lost abilities, learn to make up for language problems, and learn other methods to communicate
  • Counseling —to help you cope with your condition and help your family learn how to communicate with you
  • Individualized rehabilitation program—to focus on what caused your condition


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.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 01/2015 -
  • Update Date: 04/30/2015 -
  • National Aphasia Association

  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

  • The Aphasia Institute

  • Brain Injury Association of Alberta

  • Aphasia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated September 2, 2012. Accessed May 16, 2013.

  • Aphasia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: Updated July 9, 2012. Accessed May 16, 2013.

  • Cherny LR. Aphasia, alexia, and oral reading. Top Stroke Rehabil. 2004;11:22-36.

  • Freedman L, Selchen DH, et al. Posterior cortical dementia with alexia: neurobehavioural, MRI, and PET findings. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1991;54;443-448.