Strokes and seizures are considered serious, life-threatening medical emergencies. Both can have a long-lasting impact on a person’s quality of life if action isn’t taken quickly. Learn about the warning signs of conditions so you know when to seek medical attention.
What Is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is disrupted or cut off completely. Strokes are most often caused by blocked arteries or burst blood vessels that obstruct the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
There are two main types of strokes:
- Ischemic stroke – Lack of blood flow to the brain due to a blockage
- Hemorrhagic stroke – Blood pooling in the brain due to a burst blood vessel
A person can also have a transient ischemic attack, otherwise known as a “mini-stroke.” While the symptoms are identical to those of a regular stroke, they’re temporary and may go away without treatment.
Though strokes most often affect older adults and those in poor health, they can affect people of all ages and health conditions and should always be treated seriously.
Signs and Symptoms of Stroke
An easy way to remember the signs of stroke is to remember to act “FAST”:
Face drooping: One side of the face droops or sags when speaking or smiling.
Arm weakness: Inability to raise both arms and possible pain or numbness in one arm.
Speech difficulty: Slurred, incomprehensible speech or inability to speak.
Time to call 911: A person showing any of these symptoms – even temporarily – should be taken to the nearest hospital immediately.
Other Stroke Symptoms
In addition to FAST, there are other stroke warning signs to be aware of, such as:
- Rapid-onset gait issues
- Sudden, severe headaches
- Vision problems in one or both eyes
- Numbness or paralysis in any part of the body
- Sudden confusion or memory loss
What Is a Seizure?
Seizures are rapid, uncontrollable changes in the brain’s electrical activity. They often lead to convulsions and loss of consciousness. The cause and severity of seizures can vary, though even mild seizures may indicate a serious health condition. It’s best to know how to recognize the signs.
Some of the most common types of seizures include:
Non-epileptic: A one-time occurrence caused by injury or illness
Partial or focal seizures: Epileptic seizures that occur in one area of the brain
Generalized seizures: Epileptic seizures that occur in all areas of the brain
Warning Signs and Symptoms of a Seizure
Several symptoms can manifest before a seizure occurs, such as:
- Sudden fear or anxiousness
- Changes in vision
During a seizure, someone may experience:
- Uncontrollable spasms
- Rapid loss of balance
- Teeth clenching
- Loss of consciousness
- Temporary confusion
- Sudden emotional changes
- Twitching eye movement
- Tongue biting
- Abnormal sounds
- Staring spells
Other Things to Know
Seizures can be caused by many things, including stroke, injury or infection. They can last anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes. The Mayo Clinic categorizes a seizure lasting longer than five minutes as a medical emergency.
Don’t Hesitate to Seek Medical Attention
No matter how mild symptoms may appear, if you suspect you or a loved one is having a stroke or seizure, visit the nearest Complete Care ER or dial 911 immediately.