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Stroke spam ‘fourth factor’ has a saliva lining

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Someone somewhere in cyberspace one day decided to randomly add an indicator to “The Smile Test,” which was originally developed as a shorthand guide to detecting a stroke. The “fourth indicator” has been a tough myth to slay — it’s nearly four years old already — but someone should finally put this one to bed.


The first three methods (known as “STR”) hold up:

1. Ask  the person to SMILE.

Jerry DeMarco

2. Ask the person to TALK by speaking a simple sentence (This food stinks)
3. Ask the person to RAISE both arms.

But in 2006, three years after “The Smile Test” was created, emails began circulating about an additional sign: Asking the person to stick out his or her tongue and checking to see whether it’s “crooked.”

Think about it for a second: Isn’t “crooked” a judgment call?

True deviation of the tongue indicates something is wrong — Bell’s Palsy, maybe, which practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine have dubbed “Wind Stroke.” Ahhhhhh….!

In our country, doctors hold their fingers against a patient’s cheeks and then ask him or her to push their tongue into each. If one side is stronger, you’re looking at a deviation — not necessarily a stroke.

This, of course, leads to the question: Is the Internet bad for your health?

Not necessarily. At least the cyber chain letter gets people thinking. The hope is they would then research the actual warning signs, according to the American Stroke Association:

• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

These symptoms sometimes occur quickly and disappear, which could be the result of a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke. Seeing a doctor in those instances is just as important as if the symptoms are prolonged.

Jerry DeMarco is the Publisher & Editor of CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM. He can be reached at GerardJDeMarco@gmail.com. Or: 201.943.2794

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