Concussions: Signs, Symptoms & Treatments
Now that summer is in full swing, there are more opportunities than ever for accidents to occur, especially during outdoor activities. If you or a loved one receives an unexpected blow to the head, you should be aware that it could result in a concussion.
Concussion is a traumatic brain injury that results from a blow to the head or from violent shaking of the head and upper body. Concussions affect brain function. These effects may include headaches, balance and coordination problems, or difficulties concentrating or remembering. Symptoms are typically temporary, but concussions should not be ignored.
How to Tell If You Have a Concussion
Amnesia surrounding the event that caused the concussion is not uncommon. Although severe concussion may result in a temporary loss of consciousness, it is also possible to suffer a concussion and never lose consciousness. Do not assume a blow to the head that doesn’t “knock you out” is harmless. A slight bump to the head may not require medical attention, but if any of the following symptoms emerge, it is important to seek diagnosis and treatment promptly.
Potential symptoms include:
- a sensation of pressure in the head
- brief loss of consciousness
- confusion; foggy thinking
- loss of memory regarding the event that caused the injury
- vertigo (dizziness)
- “seeing stars”
- ringing in the ears
- slurred or otherwise altered speech
- slow response to questions
- dazed/confused appearance or behavior
Less common symptoms:
- dilated pupils or pupils of different sizes
- large head bumps or bruises
- recurring dizziness
- ongoing mental confusion
How Long Do Concussions Last?
Some symptoms may manifest immediately after the head injury. Others may take hours or even days to occur. Symptoms such as loss of memory or difficulty concentrating may emerge later rather than sooner. Side effects from concussion may last for days or even weeks. Other longer-term symptoms that take hours or days to emerge include:
- personality changes
- weariness; lack of energy or stamina
- sleep disturbances
- alterations in the sense of taste or smell
Concussions in Children
Concussions are alarmingly common among children. Very young children may be unable to express how they are feeling, making it difficult for parents to recognize the symptoms they are experiencing.
Look for the following potential signs/symptoms:
- dazed appearance
- lack of energy; sleepiness
- excessive crying or fussing
- changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- loss of interest in favorite toys or games
- loss of balance or unsteady gait
Treatment for Concussion
- Avoid taking over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetamenophen or ibuprofen, until the individual is evaluated by a doctor. Pain medications may mask symptoms, and in some cases may promote bleeding.
- Rest is the most important treatment for concussion. Get at least eight hours of sleep at night (longer for young children) and rest during the day. The brain needs time to heal.
- Aftereffects often last for 6–10 days. If symptoms persist for more than a week, you should seek professional help.
- Avoid stimulating activities, such as listening to loud music or playing video games.
- Eat healthy meals. Whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables may be helpful, as these foods tend to help ease inflammation.
- Do not engage in strenuous physical — or mental —tasks until healed.
- Do not resume activities such as sports, which might result in additional head injuries.
- Tell your child’s educator if your child has suffered a concussion. They need to be aware that your child’s brain is healing.
- Seek a doctor’s advice before driving, operating heavy machinery, or even riding a bike, as your reactions may have slowed.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Do not take any drugs not specifically approved by your doctor.
- Flying soon after a concussion could exacerbate symptoms and should be avoided.
- Before resuming taxing activities — ranging from playing video games, to exerting yourself doing housework, to working on the computer, to reporting for work or school, to exercising vigorously — consult your doctor for advice.
When to Visit PhysicianOne Urgent Care for Concussions
Head injuries should be taken very seriously. Don’t risk your health if you feel you or a loved one may have suffered a possible concussion. PhysicianOne Urgent Care is open 7 days per week for high-quality urgent care, to evaluate your symptoms and recommend treatment options at a fraction of the cost of the Emergency Room. Contact us at 1.855.349.2828, or stop in today for a convenient, walk-in visit. If you’re looking to save time, find a location near you and check in online today!