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Did I Just Have a Stroke?

Updated on March 13, 2014

Stroke Damage in Right Side of Brain

Damage in the right side of the brain causes left-sided weakness and other problems on the left side of the body.
Damage in the right side of the brain causes left-sided weakness and other problems on the left side of the body. | Source

Strokes and What to Look For

Most strokes are recognized by weakness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, and/or difficulty in following directions. When these symptoms are present it is reasonably easy to diagnose as a stroke.

The main and most readily recognized symptoms of a stroke are:

  • State of numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg, usually on one side.
  • Blurred vision in one eye or in both eyes, spots, double vision (diplopia) or blindness.
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding words spoken by others.
  • Gait, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Severe headache, stiff neck.

However, a small stroke or series of small strokes can leave symptoms that are easily attributable to other conditions; and, are therefore, sometimes very difficult to diagnose.

  • Facial Recognition. The person may not recognize persons they know well or have trouble following a movie because they have difficulty keeping track of which character is which.
  • Difficulty Swallowing. There may be difficulty in swallowing which can often result in drooling.
  • Word Confusion. There can be difficulty or inability to participate in conversations due to inability to understand words being used. Words that are similar may be confused and used inappropriately.
  • Depth Perception. There may be problems with depth perception making walking even more unstable due to the inability to judge changes in pavement levels.
  • Confusion. A person who has had a stroke can become confused easily and make inappropriate choices due to the confusion.
  • Changes in Elimination. Changes occur in the bowels and bladder on occasion. There can be an increased difficulty in maintaining control over the elimination process.
  • Loss of Memory. While they may be able to recall events and song lyrics from decades ago, they may have little or no memory of what happened just a few days ago or that morning. Also, if the stroke causes right-brain damage, there may be trouble with visual memory. This means that they will have difficulty recognizing faces, places and the names or functions of objects.
  • Personality Changes. Some stroke victims experience personality changes. This can be an incredibly difficult problem for family members or caregivers to handle. Survivors of a left-brain stroke may become more introverted, meek and docile. On the other hand, survivors of a right-brain stroke may become more impulsive, inquisitive and daring. They may try to do things that are beyond their "new" physical limitations which could lead to further injury.
  • Difficulty Reasoning. A person may find it difficult to reason clearly or solve simple problems.
  • Spatial Cognizance Problems. The right side of the parietal lobe controls visual-spatial functions, such as judging the distance, position, size and speed of objects. People who have had a right-brain stroke often have difficulty with depth perception and judging where they are in relation to other people, objects and surroundings. This results in difficulty to reach for and grasp objects, to feed themselves, get dressed, climb stairs and a litany of other everyday tasks. Some patients may even try to read a book that is upside down.

Was It a Stroke?

Cartoon depicts classic symptoms of stroke - weakness on one side of the body, inability to talk intelligently, inability to raise both arms to same height and/or confusion.
Cartoon depicts classic symptoms of stroke - weakness on one side of the body, inability to talk intelligently, inability to raise both arms to same height and/or confusion. | Source

Signs of a Stroke

Mild stroke symptoms can range in their intensity and effects on an individual. Mild stroke symptoms can affect movement, speech, the senses, balance, and are a major risk for severe injury. A person's perception can change, which may make it more difficult for them to realize the risk involved in basic daily activities.


Mild Stroke Symptoms

Mild stroke symptoms may lead to emotional outbursts, a person might be suddenly excessively happy or sad, without any reason. These emotional imbalances can be stressful for both the individual who has undergone a mild stroke as well as their family and friends.

Mild stroke symptoms also include speech difficulty; if a particular part of the brain is affected then speech can be slurred. Usually, the individual does not lose their ability to speak or form sentences, but may have trouble finding the right word, completing a thought or being intelligible.

The most common mild stroke symptoms include weakness in the face, arm or leg on one side of the body, facial numbness, inability to understand spoken words or the inability to speak, dizziness and blurred vision.

After experiencing mild stroke symptoms, patients experience fatigue, mood swings or problems with concentration.

Often, after experiencing a mild stroke, patients are overcome with fear of a more serious future stroke. In mild stroke symptoms, serious consideration and medical attention is necessary and urgent.

A CT Scan

A CT scan shows the brain slice by slice.  It allows medical personnel to see deep into the brain tissue to determine if brain tissue has been damaged or lost.
A CT scan shows the brain slice by slice. It allows medical personnel to see deep into the brain tissue to determine if brain tissue has been damaged or lost. | Source

Reducing the Chances of Stroke

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