The average individual has word-finding difficulty many times each day, and their frequency increases with age. They may be an indication of a brain problem in rare cases.
Finding the right word is important for communication. If you are having problems finding the right word, it can be a sign of a more serious issue. Our brains use different strategies to help us think of different words that could possibly fit a situation. For example, if I ask you to give me your email address, you might say "[email protected]". But if I asked you to send me an email, we would need another word or phrase like "mail me".
It is not unusual to find yourself without a word at times. The best thing to do is to not worry about it. It may be an indication that something else needs our attention instead. For example, if you were trying to describe a color but couldn't come up with any words, that might mean that there is something else that needs our attention more than we thought.
In general, if you are having problems thinking of the right word, it's best to just start talking. You will probably come up with the right word eventually. And if you can't, then the problem isn't that big of one.
There are 36 conditions that are linked to trouble finding words, forgetfulness, memory issues, and mood swings. The WebMD Symptom Checker links below will provide you with more thorough information about these medical problems, allowing you to have a better knowledge of the causes and treatment of these linked disorders.
The first three conditions on our list involve memories not being stored properly. Memory problems can be an early sign of Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia. Other diseases or conditions that may cause memory problems include stroke, head injury, multiple sclerosis, thyroid problems, drug abuse/addiction, and depression. Depression can also play a role in word finding difficulties due to its association with cognitive problems such as confusion, difficulty focusing, and poor judgment.
Word finding problems can also be an indicator of another neurological problem called aphasia. Aphasias can be caused by strokes, tumors, or other physical problems that damage the brain's language centers. There are several different types of aphasias, including auditory-verbal, which involves problems speaking correctly; agrammatic, which means using incorrect words or phrases; and global aphasia, which refers to a loss of ability to understand or express thoughts directly.
Finally, word finding problems can also be an indication of hearing loss. Hearing loss can be due to many different reasons, but usually has something to do with aging.
Primary word-finding difficulties can emerge as a standalone language disorder or as part of a larger cognitive or behavioral illness. When a defect in another cognitive area interferes with the operation of a more or less intact language system, secondary word-finding difficulties emerges. For example, if you have dementia, you may experience problems with word retrieval because you cannot remember how things were previously arranged or what words you used before losing your memory.
Other factors that can lead to word-finding difficulties include brain tumors, head injuries, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, vitamin deficiencies, drug abuse (especially alcohol), and thyroid disorders. A lack of exposure to language can also cause word-finding problems; this is called "problems with vocabulary acquisition." People who have these problems may need help learning new words or improving their memory for old ones.
Word-retrieval problems can be an indication of something else being wrong with your child's mind. If your child has difficulties remembering words or cannot think of other words that could replace the missing ones, he should be checked by a professional.