Stroke Symptoms

Topic Overview

If you have symptoms of a stroke, seek emergency medical care. Symptoms may include:

  • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or paralysis in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
  • Sudden vision changes.
  • Sudden trouble speaking.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
  • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
  • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

A stroke usually happens suddenly but may occur over hours. For example, you may have mild weakness at first. Over time, you may not be able to move the arm and leg on one side of your body.

Ischemic stroke

Symptoms of an ischemic stroke (caused by a blood clot) vary from one person to another. But symptoms usually occur in the side of the body opposite from the side of the brain where the clot occurred. For example, a stroke in the right side of the brain affects the left side of the body.

Symptoms of a stroke may be so minor that they are ignored or go unnoticed. Some people have symptoms that go away after a short time. This could be caused by a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. A TIA is a warning sign that a stroke may soon follow.

Hemorrhagic stroke

The symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke (caused by bleeding in the brain) are usually the same as those from a blood clot. But you also may have other symptoms, such as:

  • Severe headache, sometimes in a specific area.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Neck stiffness.
  • Dizziness, seizures, or changes in mental state, such as irritability, confusion, and possibly unconsciousness.

Hemorrhagic strokes usually occur during the daytime and during physical activity. Symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke usually begin very suddenly (within seconds) and get worse over several hours.

Credits

Author Monica Rhodes
Editor Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Richard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Last Updated January 8, 2009

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