Time is key to reversing stroke damage

When it comes to a stroke, timing is everything. It is hard for some people, especially those who suffer from headaches or migraines, to know the difference between a stroke and a regular, painful headache. There are key differences between the two, though.

The easiest way to recognize a stroke is by using the “FACT” acronym. This stands for “Face, Arm, Speech, Time.” If your face is drooping or numb on one side, and you cannot smile with your whole mouth, it could be a stroke. Weakness or numbness in an arm is another sign. Try to raise both arms, or ask a loved one to do so. If one arm does not raise as high as the other, seek medical attention. Speech problems are another sign. If someone you love cannot speak, slurs words, or is hard to understand, ask them to repeat a very simple sentence. If they cannot do this, immediately call for help or go to the hospital.

While severe headaches can also come with some types of stroke, there are enough differences to know if you should seek medical attention. Someone suffering from a severe headache may get relief in a darkened room, or after taking medication. Most headache sufferers do not have the signs of stroke that affect speech and facial movement.

If a stroke is caught and treated within two hours, in most cases its effects can be almost entirely reversed. Seek medical attention immediately if you believe you or someone you love is having a stroke.