Time is of the essence when it comes to surviving a stroke and experiencing little to no long-term effects from it. The problem is that people tend to downplay symptoms of a stroke while they are experiencing one or attribute a stroke to another cause.
The longer someone waits to seek emergency treatment during a stroke, the greater the likelihood of a fatal or disabling outcome. For this reason, United Hospital Center (UHC) is working with Dare to C.A.R.E. to help spread awareness of stroke symptoms as well as provide our patients with free screening tools and educational resources. We encourage you to learn both the common symptoms of stroke so you can be better prepared to seek help if someone near you experiences them or let them know to seek help for you.
Common Signs of a Stroke:
Facial Drooping Limited to One Side
According to the American Stroke Foundation, symptoms typically appear on one side of the body. This is because the left side of the brain controls movements on the right side and the right side of the brain controls movement on the left side. Symptoms appear depending on which side of the brain has sustained damage from blood clots or restricted blood flow. Sudden drooping of your mouth or eye, as well as not being able to control your facial movements, is a serious stroke symptom that requires immediate attention.
Weakness or Numbness on One Side of the Body
Losing strength in an arm or leg or realizing that you cannot feel one side of your body is a common stroke symptom. You will have difficulty walking or maintaining your balance. If you are holding something in your hand, you may drop it if the stroke symptoms hit that side of your body.
Aphasia is a medical term that means the sudden loss of speech or the inability to produce the speech sounds you would like. Because the stroke has affected brain tissue you need to control your speech, words may come out slurred, you might make no sense to others, or you could say one word and mean something else entirely. Although not as common as weakness or facial drooping, Aphasia is a serious symptom that requires immediate evaluation by a doctor.
Written or Spoken Words Make Little Sense to You
Aphasia means that you have lost the ability to understand language or express yourself verbally. Since this is a function of the left side of your brain, you will only experience aphasia if you sustain damage in that area. It can also be a struggle for you to process words.
For example, someone may say a word or phrase you have heard thousands of times in the past, but you suddenly do not know what it means. Aphasia is a serious symptom that differs from the inability to occasionally remember a word you were trying to say. That happens to most people, but a sudden or severe onset requires medical intervention.
This symptom is most common in people experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke. This means that the brain has started bleeding into itself. People who have experienced a hemorrhagic stroke describe it as the worst headache of their life that came on suddenly without warning. If this happens to you or someone near you, obtaining immediate medical assistance can stop the stroke from progressing further as well as reduce the pain from the severe headache.
Loss of Coordination and Dizziness
A sudden bout of severe dizziness and/or the inability to keep yourself balanced in a standing position can both be significant stroke symptoms that require immediate evaluation. You should not try to walk while experiencing these symptoms as it could cause you to fall and sustain another injury. Weakness or numbness in one leg can also cause walking difficulties. It is best to sit down and have someone near you call 911. Never try to drive yourself to the hospital if you think you could be experiencing stroke symptoms.
Vision Problems on One Side
Since damage typically occurs on only one side of the brain, it is not unusual to experience sudden problems seeing clearly out of your right or left eye. You may not be able to see to the left or to the right either. This is due to the scrambling of signals between your eyes and brain. In most cases, the eye and optic nerve do not sustain permanent damage.
You May Have a Mini-Stroke First
If you experience some or all of these symptoms, but the symptoms clear up within 24 hours, it can mean you had a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Also known as a mini-stroke, you should consider a TIA a warning sign of a potential major stroke in the future. Please go to the UHC Emergency Department if you have any of these symptoms, even if they seem to start clearing up. This is the best way to determine what caused the stroke or TIA so you can receive the treatment you need going forward.
You can significantly reduce your risk of a stroke by consuming a healthy diet, losing weight if you are overweight, getting regular exercise, and quitting smoking. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your provider at UHC if you need additional resources for stroke prevention.
Please note, the information provided throughout this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and video, on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you are experiencing related symptoms, please visit your doctor or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.