Thinking about strokes can be scary. The fact that a stroke really doesn’t discriminate against age, sex, race or anything else makes it something that everyone worries about.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that there are warning signs or symptoms that can happen prior to the actual stroke, which you can always be on the lookout for.

What happens during a stroke is one of two things. Either one of the blood vessels in your brain has started to bleed and become “hemorrhagic”, or it has become blocked and is what they call “ischemic”.

Both of these situations are serious and can cause permanent brain damage the longer they’re left untreated, they may even result in death in the worst cases.

The best way to avoid a stroke is to keep yourself in the best general condition possible. Be sure to eat well, exercise regularly, and get plenty of good sleep as often as you can.

Otherwise, you can start by educating yourself on what a stroke looks/feels like and how to know when one may be coming on. These 5 warning signs can clue you in before things get dangerous.

1. Sudden migraine or excruciating headache.

If you suffer from severely painful migraines regularly or chronically, this probably won’t apply to you and you should be seeing a neurologist anyway to determine the cause.

If you rarely have headaches at all and suddenly you find yourself in extreme pain, sensitive to lights and sounds and dizzy, this could be a sign of stroke.

Whether you have a bleed or a blockage, the blood pressure in your brain is going haywire, which causes the pain and all that which accompanies it.

2. Inability to focus or comprehend.

This happens when certain parts of your brain which normally control language or logical thought are deprived of oxygen.

You might suddenly be unable to understand what is being said to you, despite being spoken to in your native language, or you might struggle for minutes to string together a small sentence that should take seconds to spit out.

3. Dizziness or numbness in one side.

If you become very dizzy, feeling like the Earth is tilting or shifting underneath your feet while you’re actually standing on solid flat ground, this could be a sign of stroke.

This feeling may be combined with a numbness or loss of control of muscles in one side of your face or body. This is because the muscles are being deprived of oxygenated blood.

4. Double or blurred vision.

Again, if this is happening only on one side, the likelihood that it is a stroke is much higher than it would be otherwise.

If you start to see double, this can mean that one eye is trying and failing to focus, while the other remains unchanged. Blurred vision can also be a sign of blood loss or blockage in the brain.

5. Sudden complete exhaustion.

We all feel tired at times, but if you find yourself feeling energetic or even at a perfectly normal level of alertness, and then suddenly out of nowhere, it’s as if you’re swimming through wet cement mix, this may be a sign of stroke.

When your brain is not receiving the blood and oxygen it needs, it begins to shut down and malfunction. This results in a feeling of weakness and serious fatigue that will not go away.

If you experience this feeling coupled or matched with any of the other symptoms, you should tell someone what is happening right away and get to a hospital as quickly as you can.

The key to surviving a stroke with a good chance for full recovery is all in the timing.

You’ve got to keep a watchful eye out for signs, the faster you figure out what’s going on and get yourself to treatment, the better your odds will be.

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