A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. Trauma means an injury that occurs because of physical force. Usually, the effects of a concussion are short term and the effects mild, but not always.

Approximately 3 million people a year develop a concussion. Concussions commonly happen in sports or car accidents but can occur anytime and anywhere someone hits their head suddenly.

When a blow occurs to the head, the brain is literally shaken in the skull which can cause symptoms from the resulting force.

Because we cannot see inside our heads, a concussion is usually diagnosed from a combination of how the injury occurred and the four categories of symptoms. Many people with concussions report that they do not feel like themselves.

Concussion Symptoms

Some of the symptoms could include headaches,  mental confusion or “fogginess”, lack of coordination, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, ringing in the ears, sleepiness, and excessive fatigue, inappropriate emotional responses, having no memory of the injury.

The symptoms of concussion can be divided into four categories:

  • thinking and remembering;
  • physical;
  • emotional and mood; and
  • sleep.

What do your eyes look like when you have a concussion?

There is often dilation of the pupils in reaction to the injury. If it continues for an extended period, have it checked by a medical professional.

What to do when You Have a Concussion

If the symptoms are mild and you are alone, the first step is to go somewhere to inspect how your head looks, make sure there are no gashes, swelling or bruises. Determine how you feel mentally. Go where you can rest and avoid strenuous activity.

Avoid driving. Unless prescribed, it is best not to take pain relievers since they mask symptoms and increase bleeding. It is best to have someone who can check in on you and provide an independent eye to your condition.

How do doctors check for a concussion?

The presence of the symptoms is an indication of a concussion if they follow a blow to the head: dilated pupils, headache, dizziness, feeling sick or throwing up, difficulty with coordination or balance, blurred vision, slurred speech, trouble answering basic questions or saying things that don’t make sense, feeling confused and dazed.

Depending on the severity of symptoms, more medical intervention may become necessary. In those situations, Doctor or medical personnel may order an MRI or CT scan, but this does not occur most of the time with concussions. If there are seizures, continued vomiting or disorientation medical intervention is needed, The more severe the symptoms, the greater the chance for additional treatments.

What is the protocol or test for a concussion?

  1. Examine the physical extent of the injury.
  2. Get ice if there is bruising to help with swelling
  3. Observe whether the injured person is exhibiting any of the symptoms associated with a concussion.
  4. Remove the injured person from physical activity and mental exertion and allow them to rest.
  5. If symptoms are severe or worsen, seek immediate further medical attention.

How long after a concussion do symptoms appear?

Symptoms of a concussion can occur any time from immediately after being injured in the head up to weeks after the injury first occurred. Again, more severe the symptoms, more likely direct medical intervention is needed. With small children, it is almost ways smart to have a doctor examine them since they are most susceptible to injury as their brains and bodies are still developing.

What is the cure for a concussion?

For all the medical sophistication we have, for a concussion, which is defined as mild head trauma, rest and time are the basic elements of a cure. Anything else may deal with symptoms, but not the underlying need of time for healing. If you bruised your leg or arm what ultimately makes it disappear is time and protecting that area of your body from further injury. The same goes for a concussion.

The best treatment is rest and to stay away from physical exertion for a few days to avoid a re-injury or worsening of symptoms. Avoid driving.  It is advisable to stay home from work as well since mental exertion is also not advised till symptoms recede.

Sleeping is good after a concussion. A concussion may require time off from school or work. If there are continuing headaches, a doctor may prescribe a pain reliever. When the symptoms are severe, further treatment may be necessary, but even then, rest is the important thing.

Can you go to sleep if you have a concussion?

In nearly all cases, the answer is yes. In fact, there is more of a concern if you don’t sleep. Since the best thing for a concussion is rest, sleep is a good thing to help the healing. The only exception is if the injured person has severe symptoms where sleeping or unconsciousness could be signs of other problems.

If the person with the concussion can speak normally, isn’t vomiting and their pupils don’t appear to be dilated before going to sleep, then keeping the patient awake is doing more harm than good. The former common wisdom that someone with a concussion shouldn’t sleep is just a myth.

Can you die in your sleep if you have a concussion?

Falling asleep after a concussion is almost always a healthy and good thing. Trying not to sleep is more likely to lead to further problems. The myth was that sleeping directly after leads to a coma that someone would not wake from ever again.  For a long time, people were kept awake for the day after a concussion. There is no medical evidence for this. Also, a concussion is generally a mild injury to the head where the symptoms are not life-threatening.

How often do you have to wake someone with a concussion?

You don’t need to wake them unless given specific instructions to do so by a medical professional.  However, difficulty waking up is one of the signs of a concussion along with drowsiness and fatigue.

How do you treat a concussion at home?

The general rule is simply to rest. However, if any symptoms get worse or even continues for a prolonged time it is best to seek medical attention and avoid any activity which could possibly aggravate the injury such as sports or highly physical work. It is also helpful to have a watchful eye to monitor the injury, so it is best if there is someone who can check on a person with a concussion particularly for the first day after it occurs.

How long does it take to get over a mild concussion?

It may take as little as a day, but most standards advise that even with minor symptoms it is better to have at least two days off from physical and mental activity. However. some people will suffer from symptoms that last days and even weeks. Avoid driving for at least the first day after the injury

What is the average recovery time for a concussion?

It can vary. It could be a day or less or it may take several weeks. Most people will feel better within a day or so. For such a common injury there is not a lot of explanation why it can affect people so differently. It often depends on how hard the head was hit or shaken, and whether there has been prior trauma.

What is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

If the symptoms from a concussion linger for days, weeks, into month, then someone with a concussion could be suffering from Post-Concussion Syndrome. Normally the headaches, changes in behavior or emotions, problems with thinking, etc., disappear after a few days.

However, for a significant percentage of people (10 to 15%), the problems don’t go way. If the symptoms last three months or more then a diagnosis of Post-Concussion Syndrome is made. There is no cure for Post-Concussion Syndrome, but there are medicines that can be prescribed for the pain and therapies to help deal with the continued problems. The good news is that even those who suffer from this form of concussion, almost all recover after six months.

What can I do to Avoid Having a Concussion?

If you are engaging in sport or physical activities with a high risk of physical contact or accidental injury you should consider refraining from those activities. This particularly should be considered if you have had previous injuries or concussions.

If an activity requires protective headgear, use it in accordance with the instructions provided.  When driving use safety belts and drive safely. Nonetheless, a large number of concussions will happen through accidents you can’t anticipate because of the negligence of others is involved. If you are injured simply take the best steps available to minimize your injury.