Stroke | Symptoms


How do I know if I'm having a stroke?

If you have any of the following symptoms, call for emergency help immediately:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg on one side of your body
  • Sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye
  • Trouble talking or understanding what others are saying
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
  • Sudden unexplained dizziness
  • Falling or unstable walking

The sooner you get help, the more doctors can do to prevent complete or permanent damage to part of your brain.

Another warning sign of a stroke is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA). A TIA is a "mini-stroke" that can cause the symptoms listed above. It may only last a few minutes, but you should not ignore it. People who have a TIA are at greater risk of having a stroke later. Call your doctor immediately if you think you are having a TIA.

How can I tell if someone else is having a stroke?

One way to tell if another person might be having a stroke is the F.A.S.T. test.

  • F is for Face drooping. Does one side of the face droop when the person tries to smile?
  • A is for Arm weakness. When the person raises both arms, does one arm drift downward?
  • S is for Speech difficulty. Can the person repeat a simple sentence (for example, “The sky is blue.”) correctly? Is his or her speech slurred?
  • T is for Time to call for emergency help. It’s important to get help immediately if a person has any of these symptoms.

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 01/15
Created: 09/00