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How do I know if I am having a stroke?

In a stroke, the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted by a blocked blood vessel, and brain tissue is damaged. Typical warning signs of a stroke develop suddenly and can include:

  • weakness or numbness on one side of your body
  • sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • trouble talking
  • dizziness, loss of balance, or trouble walking
  • trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
  • double vision
  • severe headache

Sometimes one or more of these warning signs occur but then disappear. That condition, called a transient ischemic attack or a TIA, occurs when blood flow is temporarily blocked. It means you may be at risk for a future stroke.

Knowing the symptoms of stroke is important because prompt treatment is essential to avoid brain damage.

Even though ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes are different, their symptoms are similar. Here are the common symptoms of stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the extremities or face
  • Sudden problems with comprehension or speech
  • Sudden issues with vision, such as blurry vision or blindness
  • Sudden issues with coordination, including difficulty walking or dizziness
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Sudden vomiting or nausea

The main thing to remember is the sudden nature of stroke symptoms. The sudden onset is a huge tip-off that you may be suffering a stroke.

Often, people ignore the symptoms of a stroke and hope it will go away. Unfortunately, this is a serious mistake.

Once the symptoms appear, the clock has begun. Brain cells are dying, and for ischemic strokes, there is a very small window for some treatments. If someone goes to bed, hoping they can sleep off a sudden headache they are wasting valuable time.

Deb Cordes
Deb Cordes on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Specialist

If you are having a stroke you may experience one or all of the following signs/symptoms. You may have sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body. This weakness can occur in the face or could be in either the arm or leg. You may experience a severe headache "worse you have ever had." You may experience dizziness and problems with your vision. You may have difficulty walking. You may have difficulty in speaking and your speech may be slurred. It is important to recognize any or all of the symptoms as the possibility that you are having a stroke. It is very important that you receive immediate medical attention by calling 911 or having someone call 911 for you. Receiving immediate attention is critical in reducing the amount of brain that is damaged.

Continue Learning about Stroke Warning Signs & Symptoms

How Do I Know If Someone Is Having a Stroke?
How Do I Know If Someone Is Having a Stroke?

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.