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Myths about strokes could take lives, so know the truth

Failing to identify a stroke quickly can lead to a serious brain injury or death. People who suffer from these life-threatening conditions don't have much time to seek help. They may be paralyzed, unable to speak clearly and confused.

There are many myths about strokes that could cause someone to misdiagnose them. For example, on myth is that you can identify a stroke by looking at a person's tongue. If it's crooked, that's supposed to mean that they're having a stroke. That's not entirely true, though, and it is difficult to know what's "crooked" for one person compared to the next.

Instead of listening to myths, it's important for medical providers to follow the correct procedures for identifying a stroke. What are they?

1. They should look for numbness and weakness

Numbness or weakness in the arms, legs or face can be a sign of a stroke. It's particularly important to identify if the numbness or weakness is on one side of the body or both.

2. They should recognize sudden dizziness and trouble with balance

Someone struggling with a medical emergency may not be able to stand well. He or she may be weak and unable to balance. He or she may be uncoordinated and have problems walking from one place to another, needing assistance from those around him or her.

3. They should identify head pain

A headache with no known cause such as dehydration, a hit to the head or chronic migraines could be a sign of a stroke. If in doubt, the medical practitioner should make sure to complete tests to rule out a stroke.

If a medical provider identifies a stroke early, he or she may be able to deliver medications to the patient that can help stop and potentially reverse some of the damage that has been done. Families can help by tracking symptoms and calling for emergency help as soon as possible.

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