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Symptoms of Stroke

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, or they may occur on and off for the first day or two.


Symptoms are usually most severe when the stroke first happens, but they may slowly get worse. A headache may occur, especially if the stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain. The headache:

  • Starts suddenly and may be severe
  • Occurs when lying flat
  • Wakes you up from sleep
  • Gets worse when you change positions or when you bend, strain, or cough

Other symptoms depend on the severity of the stroke and what part of the brain is affected. Symptoms may include:

  • Change in alertness (including sleepiness, unconsciousness, and coma)
  • Changes in hearing
  • Changes in taste
  • Clumsiness
  • Confusion or loss of memory
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty writing or reading
  • Dizziness or abnormal sensation of movement (vertigo)
  • Lack of control over the bladder or bowels
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle weakness in the face, arm, or leg (usually just on one side)
  • Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
  • Personality, mood, or emotional changes
  • Problems with eyesight, including decreased vision, double vision, or total loss of vision
  • Sensation changes that affect touch and the ability to feel pain, pressure, different temperatures, or other stimuli
  • Trouble speaking or understanding others who are speaking
  • Trouble walking

You and your family should recognize the symptoms of stroke. You may have some or all of these signs. Note the time when symptoms start and call 9-1-1 or the emergency medical number in your area immediately. Stroke is a medical emergency!

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