What are the Symptoms of Stroke?
Some stroke symptoms are more well-known than others. The acronym F-A-S-T, which stands for Face, Arms, Speech, and Time, are a well-publicized public service message intended to help members of the public and medical community identify the signs and symptoms of stroke. But not all stroke symptoms appear this way.
Stroke symptoms depend on what part of the brain is damaged. In some cases, a person may not know that he or she has had a stroke. Symptoms usually develop suddenly and without warning, but sometimes occur on and off for the first day or two. Symptoms are usually most severe when the stroke first happens, but they may slowly get worse.
A headache may occur, especially if the stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain (known as a hemorrhagic stroke). The headache:
- starts suddenly and may be severe
- occurs when you are lying flat
- wakes you up from sleep
- gets worse when you change positions or when you bend, strain or cough
Other symptoms depend on how severe the stroke is and what part of the brain is affected and may include:
- change in alertness (including sleepiness, unconsciousness and coma)
- changes in hearing
- changes in taste
- changes that affect touch and the ability to feel pain, pressure or different temperatures
- confusion or loss of memory
- difficulty swallowing
- difficulty writing or reading
- dizziness or abnormal feeling of movement (vertigo)
- lack of control over the bladder or bowels
- loss of balance
- loss of coordination
- muscle weakness in the face, arm or leg (usually just on one side)
- numbness or tingling on one side of the body
- personality, mood or emotional changes
- problems with eyesight, including decreased vision, double vision or total loss of vision
- trouble speaking or understanding others who are speaking
- trouble walking
Whatever the symptoms, it is the job of hospitals and medical providers to identify the signs of a stroke in order to provide immediate medical diagnosis and treatment. Any delay in diagnosing or treating a stroke can cause brain tissue and cells to die.