Stroke Home > Signs of a Stroke

In most cases, stroke signs appear suddenly and may include confusion, dizziness, and difficulty speaking. Other symptoms can involve sudden weakness or numbness in the limbs or face (especially on one side of the body). Often, multiple signs will appear at the same time. Call 911 immediately if you or someone else exhibits possible symptoms of a stroke.

Signs of a Stroke: An Introduction

Even though a stroke occurs in the unseen reaches of the brain, early warning signs of a stroke can be easy to spot. As a general rule, stroke-related symptoms appear suddenly, and often there is more than one sign present at the same time. Therefore, a stroke can usually be distinguished from other causes of dizziness or headache.

Specific Stroke Signs

A person exhibiting possible signs of a stroke may need immediate medical attention. Signs and symptoms often include the sudden appearance of:
  • Confusion; trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes (such as double vision, blurred vision, or blindness)
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, and loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body).
Other stroke signs that are less common, but still important, are:
  • Sudden nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Brief loss of consciousness
  • Decreased consciousness, such as fainting and convulsions.

Act Fast When You See Signs of a Stroke

If you are having a stroke, you may not realize it because a stroke injures the brain. The people around you might not know that you are having a stroke either. Your family, friends, or neighbors may think you are only confused, and you may not be able to call 911 on your own. This is why everyone should know the stroke signs -- and know how to act fast.
Don't wait for the signs to improve or worsen. If you believe you are having a stroke -- or someone you know is having a stroke -- call 911 immediately. Making the decision to call for medical help can make the difference in avoiding a lifelong disability.
New treatments are available that can greatly reduce the damage caused by a stroke. However, people who have had a stroke will need to arrive at the hospital within 60 minutes after symptoms start to prevent disability. Knowing signs of a stroke, calling 911 immediately, and getting to a hospital quickly are critical to minimizing the adverse effects.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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