The signs of a mild stroke are similar to those of a major stroke. They come on suddenly and can occur up to a week before the actual event. One big difference is that a mild stroke, also known as a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, leaves little or no permanent damage. The signs and symptoms of a TIA are temporary but must be taken seriously. One of the most important reasons for recognizing the signs of a mild stroke is that a "mini" stroke may be a warning sign that a major stroke will occur soon, often within 24 hours 2.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Strokes don't cause general pain, but one of the first signs might be a headache. A headache that indicates a stroke is not a normal, everyday headache. A stroke headache is sudden and severe and has no apparent cause. Stroke headaches may be accompanied by vomiting, stiff neck or pain in your face or between the eyes. Like all symptoms of stroke, the headache is a result of sudden loss of blood or oxygen to the brain.
If you are having a mild stroke, you may feel weak or lose sensation in your face, arm and leg, usually only on one side of your body. This numbness is due to the disruption of nerve cells in your brain. In a mild stroke, numbness or paralysis should be temporary. To test if numbness is due to stroke, try this exercise from the Mayo Clinic: Raise both arms over your head at the same time. If a stroke is occurring, one of the arms will fall on its own.
When you experience a mild stroke, you may find it hard to concentrate and communication may become difficult. You may feel disoriented and may be unaware you are having a stroke because of the injury to your brain. To the outside world, you may simply look confused.
Vertigo, which is a sense that you are spinning or that everything around you is moving, is a form of dizziness that can be a sign of stroke. It may get worse if you try to sit up or move around. Vertigo is often accompanied by loss of balance and coordination that can make walking difficult or impossible. You may fall easily.
One or both eyes may be affected by a mild stroke. You may not be able to see out of one eye or have blurry vision or double vision. You may experience a temporary blackout.
If you are having a stroke, you may have trouble speaking and understanding what others are saying. You may experience aphasia, a condition that affects your ability to communicate verbally and in writing. Your speech may be slurred and your sentences may be incomplete or nonsensical. You won't necessarily experience all of these communication difficulties, and the degree to which you experience any of them will depend on which part of your brain was affected by the stroke.
- Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images