Concussions: Important Signs You Don’t Want to Miss

Concussions are some of the most commonly seen traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. These injuries occur when something strikes the head or when external forces cause the head to collide with hard objects or surfaces. Some of the most common causes of concussions include car crashes, sports accidents, and interpersonal violence.

Concussions affect everyone differently, and some of the symptoms of a concussion may take a long time to fade. Some people are more vulnerable to concussions than others, such as very young children and older adults. In some cases, a concussion can cause serious physical and psychological conditions.

Post-Concussion Syndrome

An individual who suffers a concussion may experience a wide range of possible symptoms following the injury. Post-concussion syndrome is a blanket term that applies to any of the possible symptoms following a concussion, and no two people ever experience the exact same symptoms for exactly the same length of time. Some people recover from their concussions within a few weeks while others may experience symptoms for a year or longer, even for a seemingly milder injury.

Symptoms of the post-concussion syndrome include physical as well as psychological issues.

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Speech problems
  • Difficulty with coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Tinnitus
  • Insomnia and other sleep problems
  • Sensitivity to noise and light
  • Severe headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings and personality changes

Anyone who suffers a concussion should heed the attending physician’s instructions for recovery and report any changes in symptoms immediately. In some cases, a concussion may only be one issue facing an individual following a traumatic brain injury, and the victim’s doctor needs to keep track of the patient’s changes in symptoms. A doctor may order a CT scan, neurocognitive tests, and psychological screenings to ascertain the damage following a concussion.

Major Warning Signs

Any traumatic brain injury can be intensely damaging, so it is vital to keep track of symptoms and report changes to a doctor immediately. Concussion victims and their loved ones should pay attention to any major warning signs of a blood clot in the brain.

  • A severe headache that will not go away
  • A headache that gets progressively worse
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Diminished coordination
  • Repeated vomiting and consistent nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Inability to recognize familiar people or places
  • Inability to wake up
  • Dilation of one pupil more than the other
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures
  • Increasing agitation or confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

If a young child recently suffered any type of head injury and displays any of these symptoms, take the child to an emergency room immediately. Other warning signs for children can include inconsolable crying and refusal to nurse or eat.

concussion xray

Treatment and Recovery

Unfortunately, a concussion will not improve with any acute treatments aside from treating symptoms with over-the-counter medications or prescriptions from a doctor. Rest is the most commonly recommended treatment for a concussion, and a person who recently suffered any type of concussion should refrain from physically strenuous or mentally taxing activities during recovery. It is especially important to avoid activities like contact sports that may lead to secondary concussions.

Concussions that cause severe symptoms may indicate secondary problems that could require surgery or other treatment. It is crucial for concussion victims and their loved ones to stay vigilant for any of the aforementioned symptoms — failure to do so could lead to fatal blood clots in the brain, permanent neurological damage, or even death. It is also important to remember that a concussion makes a victim more susceptible to future concussions, and a second concussion will likely lead to much worse symptoms than the first.

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