Time is crucial when dealing with a stroke. Knowing the early warning signs and symptoms of a stroke can give you the advantage of seeking medical treatment sooner rather than later. Stay one step ahead and prevent serious complications or disabilities by recognizing these common early stroke symptoms.
Numbness or Weakness in Face and Arms
When it comes to determining if someone is having a stroke you can notice the signs of numbness or weakness with a couple simple tests. Numbness and weakness during a stroke will usually occur along one side of the body, most notable in the face, arms and legs. Ask the patient to smile. Does one side of their smile or face seem to droop? Also ask them to raise their arms or legs. If this seems difficult for them to do on one side of the body or if one arm or leg tends to drift downward, do not hesitate to call 911.Dizziness and Loss of Balance or Coordination
Sudden falls or stumbles can sometimes be attributed to a stroke. Balance and movement involves the use of several muscles of the body working together. A stroke affects all or some of these making walking and standing difficult. Severe strokes may even cause paralysis. Balance and movement issues may continue to be long-term problems for the patient after the stroke. They may experience less stamina, pain and changes in muscle tone and elasticity. Physical therapy after a stroke and an active lifestyle can help reduce the affects of muscle weakness as well as improve balance and coordination.

Difficulty Communicating
A common sign of stroke is slurred or confused speech. The patient may be unable to clearly communicate or understand what other people are saying to them. Weakness in the muscles of the face, throat and mouth will make it difficult for the patient to control their speech. They may also have a hard time getting the right words out or sound confused as they speak. Have the patient say simple phrases such as their name and hometown. If they have trouble speaking or understanding what another is saying to them seek medical attention.

Sudden and Severe Headache
Headaches are often an indicator of several underlying health issues. However a sudden onset severe headache could be a precursor to a stroke. Such headaches will occur with dizziness, vision problems and confusion. Sometimes headaches will go unrecognized as a stroke symptom, mistaken for a migraine or sinus headache. It can be difficult to diagnose a stroke just by a headache alone. If the patient has a headache with no obvious cause accompanied by the preceding signs of a stroke it’s time to seek medical treatment.

Remember FAST
One of the easiest ways to remember the symptoms of a stroke is the acronym FAST.

  • F- Face. Is the patient’s face drooping?
  • A- Arms. Does the patient have weakness in their arms?
  • S- Speech. Is the patient’s speech slurred or confused?
  • T-Time. If the patient displays any of these symptoms it’s time to call 911. Make sure to note the time symptoms were first noticed as this is important information for determining treatment options.

It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible for any of these symptoms even if they go away. Treatment and diagnosis that takes place within the first three hour of the first stroke symptoms are the most effective at preventing long-term disabilities or issues. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke can save your life or the life of a loved one.