How can I distinguish a stroke from more common complaints?

Most of us have headaches or clumsy spells now and then. But the symptoms of stroke will seem unusual and come on suddenly. Call 911 if you or someone you are with notices these unexplained, sudden warning signs:

  • A feeling of numbness or weakness in your face, arm or leg (You might notice it on one side more than the other.)
  • Vision problems in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness or loss of balance; difficulty walking
  • Confusion
  • Problems speaking or understanding what other people are saying
  • Severe headaches without warning or explanation

Women may have the same symptoms as men, but they have also reported a few others. These symptoms also happen suddenly and unexpectedly:

  • Pains in the face or legs
  • Hiccups
  • Nausea
  • Feeling weak all over
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat

You may not be able to distinguish a stroke from more common complaints. Any new neurologic deficit is a stroke until proven otherwise by a doctor, and you should seek medical treatment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.