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Early Warning Signs of a Stroke

A sudden, severe headache with no known cause, double vision, drowsiness, and vomiting are possible early warning signs of a stroke. Other early symptoms may include sudden confusion, trouble speaking, and dizziness. If you or someone else experiences these signs, consider it an emergency and seek medical attention right away.

Early Warning Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke: An Introduction

Early warning signs of a stroke are clues that your body sends to indicate that your brain is not receiving enough oxygen and nutrients. If your brain does not receive oxygen and nutrients for a period of time, permanent damage (i.e., a stroke) can result. If you observe one or more of these early warning signs, don't wait, call a doctor or 911 right away.

Specific Early Warning Signs

Specific early signs that may be a warning of stroke include:
  • Sudden confusion
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, hand, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes (such as double vision, blurred vision, or blindness)
  • Sudden trouble walking
  • Sudden dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sudden loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures (in a small number of cases).
Keep in mind that even if these symptoms pass quickly, they are important early signs that require medical attention.

Are TIAs Early Symptoms of a Stroke?

Sometimes, early signs of a stroke occur, but they may last only a few moments and then disappear. This type of brief episode is known as a transient ischemic attack, or TIA (sometimes called a "mini-stroke").
Because there is no way to tell whether symptoms are from a TIA or a stroke, assume that all stroke-like symptoms signal an emergency -- do not wait to see if they go away. A prompt evaluation (within 60 minutes) is necessary to identify the cause of the stroke and to determine appropriate therapy.
Even if symptoms do get better, a serious problem caused the TIA and it isn't going away without medical help. Therefore, do not ignore these early warning signs of a stroke -- heeding them and getting treatment can save your life.
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