Temporary Loss of Function
Signs of loss of function include:
- Numbness, loss of all feeling, or inability to move part or all of one side of the body (paralysis).
- Confusion or altered behavior, such as the inability to fully rouse a person from sleep, or unusually aggressive or combative behavior.
- Sudden dimness, blurring, loss of vision in one or both eyes, or double vision.
- Inability to speak, difficulty speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
- Inability to or difficulty walking or standing (ataxia).
- Headache, which is severe and in a specific area, without another apparent cause.
- Dizziness or loss of balance with nausea or vomiting.
- Fainting or loss of consciousness.
A temporary loss of function can have many causes, such as a minor injury to an arm or leg, stress, or a more serious problem, such as a seizure. Most people have felt a leg "fall asleep," causing a pins-and-needles sensation, and then quickly return to normal after some movement or change of position.
Most of the time the cause of a temporary loss of function is not so obvious and may be serious. Loss of function, even for a few minutes, may indicate a decrease in blood flow to the brain. Vertigo or lightheadedness may occur before a:
- Stroke , which can cause progressive and permanent loss of function. Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you suspect a stroke is occurring.
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA) , which causes a brief and temporary loss of function. Even though function returns after a TIA, the TIA is a warning sign that a stroke may soon occur. The first TIA needs to be treated as an emergency. A TIA may mean that you have an increased chance of having heart disease or a heart attack.
Prompt medical attention is required for anyone with signs of loss of function, even if the loss of function is brief and temporary.
|Author||Jan Nissl, RN, BS|
|Editor||Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN|
|Associate Editor||Tracy Landauer|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Steven L. Schneider, MD - Family Medicine|
|Last Updated||October 12, 2009|