Take a deep breath and try not to worry if you’re feeling off. A lot of things can mimic stroke symptoms.
Stress is one of them. “Everybody’s body deals with it differently,” Rippee says. He’s treated people who’ve had changes in their vision and speech that were actually caused by stress and anxiety.
Or, Rippee says, it could be:
Migraine headaches. Migraines can look like a stroke. They can affect your vision and make you feel weak. If you have migraines, you have a higher risk of having a stroke, so watch your symptoms closely. If you have any of the warning signs, get medical attention right away.
High blood pressure. If your blood pressure is high, it can cause headaches, feelings of weakness, and vision problems. This is what you might hear a doctor call “uncontrolled hypertension.” It’s also a major risk factor for stroke. For most people, normal blood pressure is a top number of 120 or less and a bottom number of 80 or less.
Anxiety. It could make you feel numb around the mouth or fingertips.
Changes in blood sugar. Too little or too much can cause vision problems, especially if you have diabetes and aren’t taking your medication, like insulin, or if you took too much. It could also cause you to feel confused, similar to a stroke.
Is It Just a Headache?
If you have a dull headache that you’ve had before, or if it feels like a tight band around your head, that's probably a tension headache.
“If you have a headache that’s moderate to severe and out of character completely, that’s something to be concerned about,” Rippee says.
Some people describe pain from a stroke as the worst headache of your life, he said. If that happens, you should call 911.