Signs of Stroke You Can’t Ignore

Strokes are life-threatening attacks that affect the brain’s blood vessels. Even strokes that aren’t fatal can still result in permanent damage. The best way to reduce the risk of death and permanent disability once a stroke happens? Getting help as soon as possible. That means knowing how to spot the signs of stroke right away.

How do strokes happen?

Strokes happen when blood vessels in and around the brain either become blocked or burst.

Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death & leading cause of disability in the United States.

Strokes means loss of oxygen and nutrients to the brain, which can result in some serious consequences due to brain tissue death. If ruptured vessels are involved—meaning bleeding in the brain—there will obviously be pressure increased on the brain, further upping the odds of permanent damage and even death.

Considering these devastating consequences, it pays to know more about stroke, particularly the symptoms. After all, catching the signs of stroke early and seeking medical attention right away can make all the difference.

What are the symptoms of stroke?

With about 800,000 people a year in the U.S. suffering from strokes, it’s important for everyone to know the warning signs. Now, not everyone who experiences a stroke will experience the exact same symptoms. However, the most common signs of stroke include the following…

10. Arm Weakness

One of the easiest-to-recognize signs of stroke? Partial paralysis on one side of the body. One place this pain is often localized in is the arm.

What does partial paralysis of the arm feel like?

When experiencing a stroke, the common sensations may occur:

  • tingling up the arm or hand
  • weakness in the arm or hand
  • numbness in the arm or hand
  • loss of sensation (sensitivities to hot, cold, etc) in the arm or hand

How to spot this symptom…

There are a few ways to check for this symptom. The first is to raise both arms. If either of the following happens, it might be a sign of stroke:

  • one arm starts to lower on its own
  • it’s difficult to raise one or both arms in the first place

Another quick way to test for this sign? For the person suspected of experiencing stroke to attempt to grab something. If there are any of the following issues, it’s time to pick up the phone and call for help:

  • difficulty grabbing something
  • difficulty maintaining a grip on something
  • decreased sensitivity in the hand or fingers

A funny feeling in the leg, too…

It’s not just the arms that can become weak; the legs may also be affected

9. Leg Weakness

It’s also common for people to experience partial paralysis in the legs. Often, this symptom is restricted to just one leg or the other.

What does partial paralysis of the leg feel like?

When experiencing stroke, it’s common to notice the following:

  • tingling in the leg or foot
  • weakness in the leg or foot
  • numbness in the leg or foot
  • loss of sensation (sensitivities to hot, cold, etc.) in the leg or foot

How to spot this symptom…

There are a few ways to check for this symptom. The easiest, though, is to examine coordination. If there are any of the following signs, it’s likely time to call 911:

  • imbalance
  • difficulty walking
  • unsteady gait
  • difficulty standing completely upright
  • one leg or foot drags

Weakness elsewhere is also common.

If there’s weakness in other locations of the body, it’s also another good sign that a stroke is to blame…

8. Facial Drooping

Partial paralysis of the face is perhaps the most classic signs of stroke, as well as one of the easiest to recognize.

What does this symptom look and feel like?

Those who are suffering a stroke may notice:

  • drooping on one side of the face
  • weakness on one side of the face
  • numbness on one side of the face

How to spot this symptom…

Due to weakening and drooping of facial muscles, stroke sufferers will likely notice the following:

  • difficulty talking
  • slurring words
  • difficulty swallowing
  • uneven smile

Visions problems can making spotting other symptoms harder.

Of course, having difficulties seeing this problem because there’s difficulties seeing period means it’s extremely likely a stroke is to blame…

7. Visions Problems

Altered vision in one or both eyes can be another sign of a stroke.

What sort of vision problems can occur?

When a stroke causes vision problems, people may notice the following sensations in either one or both eyes:

  • double vision
  • blurred vision
  • dimness
  • sensitivity to light
  • partial loss of vision

Are vision changes from stroke permanent?

They can be. People who have suffered a stroke may experience vision problems that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • depth-perception issues
  • dry eyes
  • partial blindness
  • total blindness (if both eyes were affected)

A spinning room can also point to stroke.

Dizziness and vertigo can also indicate that something sinister like a stroke is at play…

6. Dizziness/Vertigo

Depending on where a stroke occurs, someone may experience dizziness, vertigo, and imbalance.

How does stroke cause dizziness?

A stroke naturally means restricted bloodflow. When blood isn’t getting to the back of head (specifically, the brainstem or cerebellum), it can lead to some intense dizziness. Why? Because these areas of the brain control balance and coordination.

What does this symptom look and feel like?

Dizziness associated with stroke may cause the following:

  • sensation of a spinning head or room
  • rocking sensation
  • unsteady gait
  • lightheadedness or feeling faint

Can queasiness happen, too?

Yes. Although less common, queasiness is another sign of stroke that requires immediate medical attention…

5. Intense Nausea

Nausea is a less common—but very serious—sign of stroke.

When does this symptom occur?

People are more likely to experience this symptom when their stroke doesn’t just involve a blockage, but a bursting of blood vessels, meaning bleeding within the brain.

This type of stroke—hemorrhagic stroke—is more likely to result in disability or death. That means seeking medical attention right away it vital for the stroke sufferer’s survival.

How to spot this symptom…

Those who notice the previously mentioned symptoms of stroke—as well as the following—should call 911:

  • sudden upset stomach for no apparent reason
  • vomiting
  • dry heaving
  • hiccuping

Now, nausea is a less common sign of stroke that might not be easily attributed to this condition. The following, however, can be much more indicative of this serious problem…

4. Severe Headache

A stroke happens inside the head. It’s therefore only natural that people can experience a headache during this event.

Is it a stroke or something else?

Headaches can have many causes. In fact, sometimes people with chronic headaches or migraines may not even know they are having a stroke, attributing their headache to those conditions rather than a stroke.

However, a stroke might be to blame if the headache is:

  • intense
  • sudden
  • has no apparent cause

Migraines, by contrast, usually happen over time and build in intensity; they are also usually precipitated by a known trigger. So, when the headache is sudden, immediately intense, and not directly attributable to anything else, a stroke may be the more likely cause.

Check for an overall altered mental state.

Of course, this symptom may naturally be accompanied by an overall altered mental state…

3. Confusion

Since a stroke is an attack of the brain, it only makes sense that confusion can occur with this condition.

What does this symptom look like?

When someone is suffering a stroke, they can show the following signs of an altered mental state:

  • concentration problems
  • difficulty understanding what someone is saying
  • difficulty speaking coherently

How to check for this symptom…

Ask someone you suspect suffering a stroke to repeat a simple sentence. If there is any difficulty, seek medical attention right away.

What are some other severe signs of stroke?

Other complicated symptoms of stroke include…

2. Seizures & Fainting

Seizures and fainting are severe symptoms of stroke and can preclude serious injury, disability, or even death.

What are the symptoms of seizures?

Those experiencing a stroke and seizure may experience the following:

  • lack of awareness
  • loss of consciousness
  • intense fatigue or drowsiness
  • uncontrolled jerking of the limbs

What are the warning signs of a seizure?

Some people may experience the following sensations before the experience a seizure (or at other times during an ongoing stroke):

  • altered sense of taste
  • altered sense of smell
  • altered sense of touch
  • déjà vu

What’s next?

If these symptoms occur, it’s time to think F.A.S.T. and call 911

1. Think F.A.S.T.

F.A.S.T. is a handy acronym for noticing the signs of stroke. It stands for:

  • Face drooping: Ask someone to smile. Notice if one side of the person’s face seems to sag.
  • Arm weakness: Ask someone to raise their arms. Notice if someone has difficult raising one arm or one arm drifts down.
  • Speech difficulty: Ask someone to repeat some phrases. Notice if they slur their speech or have issues repeating or remembering it.
  • Time to call 911: Get professional help right away.

In other words, if you notice that yourself or someone else experiences numbness, confusion, vision problems, trouble walking, and/or intense headache, it’s time to pick up the phone and call for help right away.

Provide the following information to medical personnel.

When help arrives, medical personnel will want the following information:

  • When the symptoms began
  • Patient’s medical history, including any previous strokes or bleeding inside the brain
  • Whether there is metal in/on the patient
  • Any medications the patient currently takes
  • If the patient suffers from a bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia

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