What is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head. This type of brain injury can be common in athletes who play sports, or people who participate in recreational activities. It is also possible to get a concussions from a blow to the body if it causes sudden head movement. You cannot see a concussion, so many of them are not treated or reported to a doctor. Signs and symptoms may show right away, or may not be noticed until day sof weeks after the injury.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptom is a headache. Blacking out after a concussion isn’t common. Other common symptoms include:
Dizziness and balance problems
Nausea and vomiting
Concentration and memory problems
Feeling sluggish or foggy
Sensitivity to light or noise
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your family physicians if any of the above signs or symptoms are noticed following a head injury. If the symptoms are severe, getting worse over time, or if you have specific concerns, you should transport the injured person to an emergency room. It is particularly concerning if the person cannot be awakened, is having convulsions or seizures, or cannot recognize people or places.
How is it diagnosed?
There is no one test that can diagnose a concussion. Your doctor will ask you about your head injury and your symptoms. Your doctor will also test your strength, balance, reflexes, and memory. If your doctor thinks you have a more serious injury, imaging tests of your brain may be needed.
How long does it last?
Symptoms usually go away in three to 10 days. It may take longer in children, teenagers, and people who have had a concussion before.
How is it treated?
The most important treatment is rest, both physical and mental, so that the brain can heal. You should not do any heavy activity, like aerobic exercise or weight lifting, until your doctor tells you it’s okay. Mental rest means avoiding things that require a lot of focus, like playing video games, text messaging, and watching television, until your symptoms are gone.
There are no medicines to cure a concussion. Although your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain medicine to help relieve symptoms like headaches, some medicines aren’t safe to take. Always ask your doctor before taking medicine the first few days after a concussion.
When can I return to playing sports?
If it’s possible that you might have a concussion, you should stop playing immediately. Continuing to play while you have a concussion can lead to serious injury.
Your doctor and your coach will work together to decide when it is safe for you to return to your sport. When you no longer have any symptoms of concussion, they will help you gradually return to your normal level of play.
How can I prevent a concussion?
Ways to minimize the risk of suffering a concussion include: