7 Early Warning Signs of a Stroke

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A stroke is a serious medical emergency which, in order to cause as little damage as possible, should be treated as soon as possible after the first signs of it appear. If the symptoms are not recognized on time, and the stroke is not treated, it can cause serious brain damage – permanently. Most strokes happen because of a clot (around 80%), while only around 20% happen because of bleeding in the brain. The first type of stroke is called ischemic, while this less common one is hemorrhagic stroke. It is important to react in the first couple of hours, so immediately after you notice these symptoms in yourself or someone else, call an ambulance.

1. You start seeing everything double, blurry or can’t see at all.

This is a strong indicator that a person is going to have a stroke. The other symptoms accompanying this one are weakness in arms and face, alongside inability to speak understandably and meaningfully. However, many people only recognize the vision problems as a symptom, and fail to notice the rest of them, which sometimes leads to an untimely reaction.

2. You are finding it difficult to speak and you feel confused.

This is one of the first symptoms of a stroke, and it includes the inability to express yourself, but the inability to understand others speaking as well. One of the tests you can conduct to see if you or a person you know has had a stroke is to try to repeat a simple phrase. A group of researchers from Phoenix made a short test in order to diagnose stroke. The phrases to test if the patients are experiencing speech difficulties were so simple that a child could do it. For example, the patients were asked to say “The sky is blue in Cincinnati” or “Don’t cry over spilled milk”. If a person is using the wrong words, speaking unintelligibly, or not able to speak at all – a chance that he/she has had a stroke is as high as 72 percent.


3. Your limbs are numb.

After a stroke, people usually experience a numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, but it usually happens on the opposite side of the place where the stroke happened in the brain.  An easy way to test this is to put your both arms in front of you, with your palms up and try to keep them that way for 10 seconds. If you are able to keep your arms in that position, you are fine; but if one arm falls down, you have probably had a stroke.

4. You feel dizzy and out of balance.

If you haven’t had a drink, but you are feeling and behaving as if you were drunk, you may be having a stroke. According to the director of the Wayne State University, Dr. Chaturvedi, people tend to confuse this sudden dizziness with a viral syndrome instead of linking it with stroke, and then they fail to react on time and that leads to greater damage caused by the stroke.

5. Sudden pain.

Especially when it happens only on one side of the body, sudden pain can be a tell tale sign of stroke and should not be disregarded as insignificant. This symptom has been more common (by 62%) in women than in men.

6. A sudden headache.

By this we mean a strong headache, so strong that you are not sure if you can handle the pain. This is one of the most prominent warning signs of stroke. Dr. Chaturvedi, along with his colleagues, suggests reacting immediately after this happens and going to a brain MRI in the emergency room.

7. One-sided facial weakness.

This is a common indicator of stroke. When you go to the emergency room, the medical professionals will do a test asking you to smile. If your face is able to move only on one side, you are probably having a stroke.

Other common symptoms include changes in mental state, disorientation, weakness, frequent and sudden hiccups, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. To prevent going through a stroke and not to have to deal with these symptoms, possible brain and body damage, as well as with the lengthy treatment, you can change your lifestyle and choose healthier foods, and also quit unhealthy habits such as drinking and smoking. Introducing (more) physical activity can also help a lot. But most of all, a combination of good habits and emotion control is the best prevention method.

Finally, if a stroke happens to you or someone you know, the most important thing you can do is to react immediately and make sure you, or the person besides you gets the proper treatment on time, which will prevent permanent damage and make it possible to recover and live a good life once the treatment is over.