Strokes Center

Stroke Symptoms

Strokes can happen suddenly and with no warning signs.  However, paying attention to the symptoms of a stroke is very important.  Symptoms of stroke should be treated as a medical emergency, and not be ignored or assumed to eventually 'pass away' on its own. 

Symptoms of a stroke
Symptoms of a stroke required immediate, emergency, medical attention. These symptoms usually occur without any warning.  When a stroke occurs, brain cells begin dying within minutes.  With each minute that passes, the chances of permanent damage to the brain or even death increase.  It's important to know the symptoms of stroke, as it is both common and lethal.  These symptoms include a sudden:

  • blurred or blackened vision in one or both of your eyes
  • difficulty with walking, including loss of balance and coordination
  • facial numbness
  • headache with no apparent reason
  • problem with speaking or understanding speech
  • weakness in an arm or leg (especially if it's on one side of the body)

Transient ischemic attack (TIA) symptoms
Most people will not experience warning signs of a stroke.  However, some people experience a transient ischemic attack, or TIA.  During a TIA, symptoms match those of a stroke but last for only a few minutes.  Luckily, a transient ischemic attack does not result in permanent damage to the brain.  However, a transient ischemic attack may precede a full stroke and should be considered a serious condition.  Take this as a clear warning sign to seek medical attention immediately.  And, after the TIA has been treated, make sure to inform your doctor about the occurrence.  

When to seek help
If you notice that you or someone else is experiencing stroke symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately.  Usually, the best thing you can do is to call 911.  In most situations, having an ambulance take you to the hospital is the best action.  If you are driving and experiencing stroke symptom, stop driving as you may lose control of your vehicle and endanger your life as well as others.  If you can seek attention at a hospital which has a dedicated stroke center, you'll be provided care from doctors and other staff that are specialized for stroke situations, thus increasing the odds of a good recovery.

Consequences of stroke
Because strokes affect the brain, and because the brain controls all functions of the body, strokes can impact all body functions.  Depending on the area of the brain that has been injured, different symptoms can manifest themselves.  If you survive a stroke, you may face long-term disabilities, including:

  • difficulty swallowing
  • difficulty talking
  • difficulty with understanding
  • loss of muscle movement
  • memory loss
  • pain, numbness, or sensitivity to temperature differences
  • paralysis

The consequences of living with a stroke can be frightening.  Some people feel that they have lost control over life because they can no longer interact with their world as they used to.  They may recall events 40 years ago, but not within the past day.  Or, they may have difficulty in making judgments, or parking their car.  Because the consequences of permanent brain damage can be reduced by prompt, effective medical treatment, always treat symptoms of a stroke as a medical emergency deserving your immediate attention.  Most of the time, you will know if you are experiencing a stroke in an emergency situation.  However, there are ways that doctors can diagnose stroke using medical data. To understand how doctors diagnose stroke and what happens during a stroke, read our How to diagnose stroke section now for additional information.  

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