The symptoms of stroke depend on what part of the brain is damaged. In some cases, a person may not even be aware that he or she has had a stroke. Symptoms usually develop suddenly and without warning. They may be episodic (occurring and then stopping) or they may slowly get worse over time. Symptoms may include:
- Change in alertness (consciousness)
- Difficulty speaking or understanding others
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty writing or reading
- Occurs when lying flat
- Wakes you up from sleep
- Gets worse when you change positions or when you bend, strain, or cough
- Starts suddenly
- Loss of coordination or balance
- Movement changes, usually on only one side of the body
- Difficulty moving any body part
- Loss of fine motor skills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensation changes, usually on only one side of the body
- Decreased sensation
- Numbness or tingling, usually on only one side of body
- Sudden confusion
- Weakness of any body part but usually on one side of body
- Vision changes
- Decreased vision
- Loss of all or part of vision
Act FAST - Signs of Stroke
According to the National Stroke Association, always remember to act FAST if you think someone is having a stroke (FAST graphic on left courtesy of Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health):
- Face - Does the face look uneven or drift down?
- Arm - Does one arm drift down?
- Speech - Does the person's speech sound strange? Ask the person to answer a simple question.
- Time - If you observe any of these signs, it is time to call 9-1-1. The quicker the person receives treatment, the better his/her chances are for recovery.