When people experience a TIA, or transient ischemic attack, symptoms typically appear suddenly. In many cases, multiple symptoms appear at the same time. Signs and symptoms of a TIA are similar to those seen with a stroke and may include confusion, trouble speaking, dizziness, and severe headache with no known cause. The symptoms often go away in less than 30 minutes, but can last for up to 24 hours.
Signs and Symptoms of a TIA: An Overview
A transient ischemic attack (TIA for short) occurs when blood flow to a specific part of the brain is temporarily decreased. Even though a TIA occurs in the unseen reaches of the brain, TIA symptoms can be easy to spot. As a general rule, all the symptoms appear suddenly, and often there is more than one TIA symptom present at the same time. Therefore, a TIA can usually be distinguished from other causes of dizziness or headache.
For a person having a TIA, the symptoms will vary depending on which part of the brain is affected. Examples of specific symptoms include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, hand, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion
- Trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes (such as double vision, blurred vision, or blindness)
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or lightheadedness
- Sudden loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
- Loss of consciousness
- Spinning sensation (vertigo)
- Sudden collapse
- Seizures (in a small number of cases).
If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing one or more of these TIA symptoms, do not wait for the symptoms to worsen or improve. Call 911 immediately. It is impossible for you to know whether these are symptoms of a TIA or signs of something more serious, such as a stroke.