Saturday, December 06, 2008

What is the difference between a stroke and seizures?

A person having a seizure may appear to be having a stroke, but there are some differences in the symptoms. However, when uncertain, the safest course is always to call 9-1-1 immediately.

A seizure is a sudden change in behavi or due to extra electrical electrical activity in the brain. There is a wide range of possible symptoms of seizures, which may or may not include:

* lack of awareness

* blocked communication

* change in emotion

* change in vision

* convulsions

* staring spells

* temporary changes in sensation or vision

* incontinence

* loss of muscle control and falling

* tasting a bitter or metallic flavor

Focal seizures can be "simple" with no change in memory or awareness or "complex," with loss of memory or change in awareness. Seizures can also be classified as generalized (whole body affected) or focal (only one part or side of the body affected).

Common causes of seizures may include:

* brain injury

* metabolic abnormalities

* infections

* tumors

If someone has never had a seizure before or this is an unusually long seizure in someone with a seizure disorder, call 9-1-1 immediately. These symptoms can be caused by life threatening conditions, such as a stroke or meningitis.

What else should you do?

* Stay with the person until recovery or until you have professional medical help.

* Report all seizures (even a mild one) to the health provider.

* Prevent the person from injuring himself or herself.

* Do not give anything by mouth until convulsions have stopped and the person is fully awake and alert.

* Do not move the person unless he or she is in danger or near something hazardous.

* Do not place anything between the person's teeth during a seizure.

* Do not restrain the person

* Do not try to make the person stop convulsing.


Occasionally, someone who has a stroke can show signs of a seizure. A stroke is a sudden neurological loss due to an interruption of blood flow to the brain. A person can have paralysis on the left side or loss of speech.

FAST is an acronym recognizing stroke symptoms. If you think some one is having a stroke, use this simple test:

* Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

* Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

* Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can he or she repeat the sentence correctly? Are the words slurred?

* Time: Time is critical. Call 911 and get the person to a Stroke Center right away.

According to the American Stroke Association, 700,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year, making it the third leading killer behind heart disease and cancer and a leading cause of long-term disability. The good news is that fewer people die of stroke than they did 20 to 30 years ago, thanks to advances in treatment and prevention.

-- Dorothy Weinberg


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