“Wind stroke” comes from a term in Eastern medicine which literally means hit by the wind, pointing to a similarity with the wind’s abruptly changeable nature. In Western Medicine this disease may be referred to as a CVA (cerebro-vascular accident) or stroke. The two approaches are similar, both considering it to be a kind of accident in which a person is struck by something suddenly with potentially fatal results.
Wind stroke is a condition usually characterized by sudden collapse, loss of consciousness, deviation of the tongue and mouth, hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body), and slurred speech. In some cases there may only be deviation of the tongue and mouth, and hemiplegia, without any collapse. It often occurs in the elderly – in all seasons, especially winter and spring.
In Western medicine, hypertension and arteriosclerosis are regarded as the most common causes of wind strokes. But in Eastern medicine, we don’t only pay attention to the cerebrovascular disorder issue but also to the qi and blood circulation disorder throughout the whole body as well as imbalance of internal organs. Wind strokes happen in the brain and are closely related to the heart, kidney, liver and spleen. For example, deficiency of yin in these organs, as well as excess caused by wind, fire, phlegm, qi and blood stasis, which are also related to these organs may all be contributors to wind strokes.
In modern society people have a lot of stress. Persistent tension can cause constant strain in the brain and may lead to a wind stroke if it surpasses the brain’s limit of endurance. In a case that only shows light symptoms we will often see a twitching of the mouth, yet it may take up to 3-6 months to cure this completely. In severe cases, it can take 2-3 years for a person to return to normal life. But even those cases are fortunate, since in many others the afflicted person can end up living with disability in four limbs, or even with severe dementia. And in extreme cases it is fatal. People with hypertension, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, high blood cholesterol, obesity, etc., tend to be hit harder by wind strokes and it may be difficult to cure them fully.
There are some warning signs and symptoms before a real wind stroke hits: numbness or weakness in hands and feet, especially in thumb and index finger; awkward speech and stiff neck; facial flushing and feeling heat rising upward; heavy-headed feeling; more frequent headaches, especially in the morning; dizziness and nausea; double or blurry vision; strange sounds in the ear; frequent twitching in eyelids; facial paralysis; and eye congestion or bloodshot eyes. The blood vessels in the eye and brain are very similar, so people with a tendency towards bloodshot eyes should be careful of wind strokes.
But a wind stroke can also happen without any distinct symptoms, so it is most desirable that we watch any small changes in our body carefully and prevent wind strokes in advance.