A concussion is any injury to the brain that leads to momentary loss of function. Many individuals with concussion do not lose consciousness but they might experience short-term memory loss, impaired reflexes, judgment, balance and speech as well as confusion.
Most cases of first time concussions will not cause permanent damage but sustaining a second one, especially if it occurs right after the first one can lead to serious and even life-threatening issues.
What are the basic symptoms of concussion?
Since most concussions involve minor injuries to the brain, they might not trigger evident effects on the neurological exams. A diagnosis is usually based on the presence of some form of trauma to the head along with accompanying symptoms. The typical symptoms include confusion, inability to maintain a logical stream of thought, failure to perform a sequence of movements and increased distractibility. In addition, memory loss is also a common symptom especially if the individual could not recall the injury that triggered the concussion.
Other symptoms might also be present such as the following:
- Vision problems
- Memory loss
- Balance issues
- Ringing ears
- Light sensitivity
- Inability to focus
- Loss of taste or smell
- Speech problems such as slurring
If any of these symptoms are present after an individual sustains a blow to the head, it is best to seek medical care. Always bear in mind that some of these symptoms do not occur naturally until hours or days after the injury. These can include irritability, sleep problems and even depression.
Indications of serious brain injury
Oftentimes, a concussion can lead to bruising, swelling or blood clots in the brain that do not manifest right away on the scans. The indications of these serious brain injuries include recurring or worsening headaches, loss of coordination or balance, loss of taste or hearing, inability to focus attention, extreme sensitivity to sounds or light, increases distractibility, constant nausea, feeling overstimulated, blood or fluid drainage for the nose or ears, enlarged pupils, seizures, vomiting, difficulty following directions, weakness or loss of sensation in the legs or arms, disorientation and problems with speech. Remember that these symptoms indicate a possible serious injury to the brain and require immediate medical attention.
What are the symptoms in children?
Always bear in mind that concussions might be difficult to recognize among young children since they cannot vocalize what they feel. Some of the signs in children include irritability, getting tired easily, changes in sleeping or eating habits, loss of interest in favorite toys and unsteadiness.
A child who ends up with these symptoms requires immediate medical care since they indicate a possible serious brain injury.
- Repeated vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty waking
- Worsening headache
- Slurred speech
- Drainage of fluid or discharge from the ears or nose
- A cut that does not stop bleeding after applying pressure for 10 minutes