The Grapevine

Stroke Symptoms: How To Spot The Warning Signs

Stroke, which occurs when the brain does not receive enough blood, is among the top five leading causes of death in the United States. The blood is cut off either due to the blockage or bursting of vessels in the brain. 

It is important to call 911 immediately if you suspect that someone is having a stroke. Early detection can be life-saving, which is why it is important to be aware of the possible warning signs.

Facial drooping

When numbness or weakness is suddenly felt on one side of the face, causing an unusual droop, it is considered a tell-tale symptom of a stroke. This occurs because the associated region in your brain is not receiving enough oxygen. 

The person will struggle with facial expressions as one corner of the eye or the mouth may droop — it is very rare for both sides of the face to be affected. You can ask him or her to smile and take note if one side of their mouth is not able to turn upward. Drooling can also occur as the person might not be able to swallow properly. 

Weakening of grip

You may find it hard to hold things or perform any activity with either one of your arms due to a feeling of weakness or numbness. This can be very subtle, according to Royya Modir of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.

"Maybe you [suddenly] have a hard time using the remote control or typing. Or maybe your arm feels heavy — that's how subtle it can be," she told Prevention. One way to test this is by lifting both your arms straight out and taking note if one of them drifts downward as this may be a potential warning sign.

Struggling with speech

One of the strong indicators of a stroke is when a person starts talking in gibberish or slurring as though they are drunk. Whenever you notice this in someone, ask them to repeat a simple phrase and observe the way they speak.

“I would say if someone is alarmed with being unable to speak – having words stuck on the tip of their tongue for example – or not understanding what others are saying, it is time to seek care immediately," Dr. Andrew Stemer of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, told Health 24.

Extreme headache

If someone has suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, characterized by the bursting of a blood vessel in the brain, they can feel a sudden and severe headache. This does not feel like a typical headache, ranking much higher on the scale of pain.

Patients who have felt it have referred to it as the "worst headache" of their lives, even accompanied by nausea or vomiting in certain cases. Sometimes, he or she may also feel dizzy and experience a brief loss of consciousness.

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