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Signs and symptoms of a concussion

Concussion Symptoms: Signs of a Concussion & Treatment

Apr 19, 2023

A bump or blow to the head may cause traumatic brain injury, known as concussion.

After bumping your head or losing consciousness, this is one of the first things a doctor will evaluate you for. The very fact that they have to check even if you feel fine (or like the bump wasn’t that serious) means several things. First, there are multiple levels of concussion. Second, its symptoms can sometimes be quite confusing.

With that in mind, what are the concussion symptoms? How do you recover from a concussion, and how long does it take? Let’s check it all out!

What is a concussion?

A sharp hit to the head can cause your brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, damaging your brain cells and causing all sorts of chemical changes in the brain. It is the sudden acceleration-deceleration that causes the injury.

While damage to brain cells sounds scary, it’s the chemical changes that you should be more worried about. You see, these changes make your body more vulnerable in general. Under their influence, and until it fully recovers, your brain will be more susceptible to stress or injury.

This is why diagnosing a concussion is such a priority whenever there’s a reason to suspect there’s been one.

What are the concussion symptoms?

The first thing worth mentioning is the difference between what the injured party reports/notices and what can be observed. For instance, the report may contain symptoms like:

  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Being more easily irritated by light or noise
  • Feeling foggy and sluggish
  • Trouble concentrating or confusion
  • Not feeling right

The problem with some of these concussion symptoms is that they’re not exclusive to concussions. It’s possible to imagine a scenario where one has suffered a blow to the head, doesn’t have a concussion (even a slight one), and experiences some or most of these symptoms (for whatever reason). As we’ve said, it’s possible (albeit unlikely).

This is why combining this report with the observation of signs is important. Try to figure out whether a person that you suspect may have a concussion has some of the following:

  • Inability to record events before the hit
  • Stunned or dazed appearance
  • Inability to follow instructions
  • Clumsy moves
  • Noticeably slow answers to your questions and forgetfulness
  • Loss of consciousness (no matter how brief)
  • Showing mood or behavior swings

The most important thing you need to remember is that not all of these symptoms must be present. Just because they haven’t lost consciousness or don’t appear to move clumsily doesn’t mean they don’t have a concussion.

Still, if you notice some of these signs of a concussion and they report some of the above-listed symptoms – it’s probably a concussion.

Disclaimer: No matter how closely you follow any online guide, the only reliable way to diagnose a concussion is to examine them by a medical professional. So, if you have your suspicions, immediately go to a doctor.

Symptoms of a mild concussion

One more thing you need to know is how to recognize the symptoms of a mild concussion. The most common indicators are:

  • Pressure in head
  • Nausea
  • Balance problems
  • Confusion
  • Not feeling quite right
  • Being more sensitive to light and noise

Checking for these after a bump in the head is the basic concussion protocol for adults.

How long do concussion symptoms last?

Even a mild concussion may have repercussions lasting for a few weeks.

Some people are extra sensitive, and some concussions are more serious than others. This is why some people suffer the consequences of concussions for months and months.

The majority of symptoms should disappear within two weeks. However, you may have impaired:

  • Cognitive abilities
  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • Physical shape

These can last for months. This is the so-called post-concussion syndrome. In some people, it can be so severe that it damages their ability to lead a normal life and may lead to a lifestyle change.

Needless to say, you should look for medical health right away. The longer the concussion lasts, the more serious it is, and postponing a checkup becomes even riskier. You must schedule a new appointment if you fail to recover longer than a doctor’s estimate.

Concussion headache treatment

While all the symptoms of a concussion are inconvenient, the one you can treat most actively is a concussion headache. Out of them all, this is also the symptom that will be hardest to bear.

Now, during the first 24 hours, you can use acetaminophen (Tylenol), while during the next 24 hours, you can use (Advil) and naproxen sodium (Naprosyn, Aleve).

You should also look for prescription medication for nausea and vomiting. Fortunately, these bothersome symptoms are the ones that don’t last as long.

How to recover from a concussion faster? 

While concussion treatment isn’t clean-cut, a few things can speed up recovery. The majority of these tips revolve around your diet and habits.

  • For instance, getting enough sleep and hydration can make the biggest difference in your recovery rate.
  • As far as your diet goes, you should eat more protein and omega-3-rich foods. Eating foods with antioxidants is also a good idea.
  • Since light is a huge problem, you might want to reduce your screen time. Sure, some suggest just lowering the brightness on your devices. While this can help, staying clear of all these light sources is even better.
  • Because noise will be bothersome, you should also reduce the volume on all your devices. It is also a good idea to tell your roommates and family members to keep it down (until you recover).
  • Lastly, you must avoid unnecessary movement of your head and neck area, at least for the first few days (ideally the first two weeks).

Every bit helps, and these steps can significantly facilitate your concussion treatment. To make things even better, they’re generally positive habits that you should adopt.

Wrap up

Concussion symptoms don’t just happen out of the blue. A hit, a shake, or a fall always precedes these diagnosis attempts. However, self-diagnosing or layman diagnosing will not always be possible. Therefore, when in doubt, always consult a medical expert.

If you want to learn more about this topic or get a more accurate diagnosis, find a concussion specialist at the Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey.

This article was reviewed and approved by an orthopedic surgeon as we place a high premium on accuracy for our patients and potential patients.