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Recognizing the Signs of a Concussion

There are many ways you can get a concussion and, unfortunately, living an active life can put you at a higher risk. Sports injuries, falls, playground injuries, or car accidents are just a few ways concussions can occur. The important thing is to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion so that you can take the proper action to allow the brain to heal.

What is a concussion? It’s a traumatic brain injury that occurs when your brain hits the inside of your skull after a blow to the head or body. Your brain is surrounded by spinal fluid that is built to protect your brain from your hard skull, but after a fall, accident, or injury that cushion might not be enough to stop an impact.

What are the symptoms?

Since there are no visible signs of a brain injury, it can be pretty hard to determine if you have a concussion or not. The symptoms fit into these 4 categories:

  • Thinking or remembering

  • Not thinking straight

  • Feeling slower than normal

  • Not being able to concentrate

  • Not being able to remember new information

  • Physical

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fuzzy or blurry vision

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Sensitivity to light and/or noise

  • Balance issues

  • Feeling tired or a lack of energy

  • Emotional and mood

  • Easily upset or angered

  • Nervous or anxious or sad

  • More emotional than normal

  • Sleep

  • Sleeping more than usual

  • Sleeping less than usual

  • Having a hard time falling asleep

Small children are even harder to diagnose. Young children may see symptoms like:

  • Crying more than usual.

  • Headache that does not go away.

  • Changes in the way they play or react.

  • Changes in the way they eat or sleep.

  • Being upset easily or having increased temper tantrums.

  • Lack of interest in their usual activities or favorite toys.

  • Loss of new skills, such as potty training.

  • Loss of balance or trouble walking.

  • Not being able to pay attention.

How is a concussion treated? In some cases, people with a concussion may need to stay in the hospital to be observed, but others can go home safely with careful monitoring for any additional warning signs or changes in behavior. Most people feel normal after a couple of hours, but it still takes time for the brain to heal. Slowly return to regular activities. Stay in touch with your doctor and let them know if your symptoms return or you’re not improving as expected. The best way to recover is to:

  • Get plenty of sleep and rest

  • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs.

  • Do not take any other medicines unless you consult your doctor

  • Avoid mentally or physically demanding activities like housework, exercise, schoolwork, video games, text messaging, or using the computer.

  • Use ice or a cold pack on any swelling for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.

  • Use pain medicine as directed.

Signs and symptoms generally show up soon after the injury. However, you may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. For example, in the first few minutes your child or teen might be a little confused or a bit dazed, but an hour later your child might not be able to remember how he or she got hurt.

You should continue to check for signs of concussion right after the injury and a few days after the injury. If your child or teen’s concussion signs or symptoms get worse, you should take him or her to the emergency room right away.

Information gathered from and

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