Thanks to recent media attention on concussions sustained in professional sports, most people are aware of the potentially dangerous impacts of a blow to the head.
If you hit your head, you’re likely wondering if you’ve sustained a concussion. It’s a serious condition, and you should learn as much as you can about it.
Use these 10 facts about concussions to guide your research.
- A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur when the skull receives a blow, causing the brain to rock inside the head, hitting the bones in your skull. It can cause bruising and cell damage that can be irreversible.
A concussion is a mild form of TBI. If you experience a concussion at the hands of someone else, you should receive medical treatment and the person who caused the injury, whether indirectly through a car accident or directly through a blow to the head, should be made to pay for the medical bills and damages.
- Concussions should be treated seriously.
Concussions are usually treatable if you act quickly. TBIs can be life threatening if not treated properly, so you need to make sure it’s just a concussion and not a more serious TBI. In some situations, a concussion can be life-threatening or cause permanent brain damage. See a health professional if you suspect a concussion.
- Concussions do not always result in lost consciousness.
If you hit your head, don’t discount a concussion just because you didn’t lose consciousness. It’s a common occurrence to pass out with this form of mild TBI, but you can sustain a concussion and remain awake.
- It doesn’t have to be a heavy blow to cause a concussion.
Concussions are often associated with hard hits to the head, such as when someone falls down the stairs or experiences a severe car accident. It’s more common to see concussions with a single hard hit, but it doesn’t have to be that way. A concussion may sneak up on you, even though you weren’t hit very hard.
It may occur because of whiplash when you’re in a car accident or knocked to the ground in a football game. Additionally, a concussion can occur when a person is repeatedly hit on the head, even if each hit wasn’t very hard.
- Concussions have a variety of telltale symptoms.
The most common symptoms of a concussion in both adults and children include:
- Nausea or vomiting shortly after the injury
- Difficulty thinking
- Reduced focus or attention
- Memory problems
- Sleeping too long or too little
- Balance problems
- Sensitivity to noise or light
Headache and nausea or vomiting are usually the earliest and most common symptoms of a concussion. Any of these symptoms could occur independently and not be a concussion. However, when you note multiple symptoms following a blow to the head, it’s likely a concussion, and you should get it checked out.
- You should see a doctor if you suspect a concussion.
You don’t need to have proof of a concussion to visit a doctor. Even if you have a suspicion that it may be a concussion, you should get checked out. Head injuries are serious, and a combination of the symptoms listed above call for a visit to a healthcare professional so they can either prescribe treatment for the head injury or find the underlying cause of your symptoms.
- Some concussion symptoms demand emergency attention.
Most of the time, a concussion is not an emergent problem. However, if you have both a severe headache and repeated vomiting, you should go to the emergency room right away. If you have difficulty staying awake, focusing, or answering simple questions, call an ambulance or rush to the nearest hospital for treatment. Time is of the essence in serious brain injuries!
- You don’t have to wake a concussion victim every hour.
It’s a common misconception that concussion patients should not be allowed to sleep for long, and you should wake them every hour. They need sleep to heal, and usually, they will be just fine. If the concussion victim is in danger of not waking up, a healthcare professional will admit him/her to the hospital for close observation.
- Concussions can have lifelong impacts, but usually don’t.
The worst concussions may result in memory loss issues, slurred speech, attention problems, sleep issues, mental health problems, and a variety of other issues. A person who receives several concussions is much more likely to experience these lifelong impacts rather than a person who receives just one.
Typically, concussion victims recover very well and there are no long-term implications.
- Rest is the best medicine.
A physician may prescribe medication for pain or vomiting, but the best thing concussion victims can do is take it easy. They need plenty of sleep and fluids. They should avoid activity and minimize head movement to help the brain heal and return to its normal function.