Signs You Might Be Suffering from a Concussion

Caesar Djavaherian, MD, MS, FACEP
March 8, 2021
5 min

Traumatic brain injuries occur when there is severe trauma to the brain, often caused by a jolt or hard blow to the head or neck. Not only are they the leading cause of emergency room visits for adolescents, but TBIs are also the leading cause of death and disability in the United States for children and adults. 


According to the Brain Trauma Foundation, early intervention and management of a TBI, no matter how severe, can help reduce the level of disability the injured person might experience over time. 


Concussions account for 90% of all TBIs and many go unreported. While many people recover from a concussion within days, there are long term effects that might start to surface down the line.


A concussion is a type of mild TBI that occurs when the head is hit, and the brain is shaken or jostled back and forth, resulting in temporary brain function disruption. But don't be fooled by the word "mild." While most people recover from a concussion within a couple of days or weeks, a third of adults experience symptoms such as memory impairment, personality changes, and headaches for months or longer.


Common causes of concussions include sports injuries, falling, fights, and car accidents. Signs of a concussion are not always easy to spot and vary from person to person. Some signs may not appear until a day or two, or more, after the injury. 


Here are some signs that you or someone you know may have a concussion.

Memory Loss and Confusion

It's common for someone not to remember the events that led up to the concussion or what happened after it. They may also have trouble remembering new information. Additionally, confusion, fogginess, and trouble processing information are also signs. 


Loss of Consciousness and Sleepiness

With a concussion, loss of consciousness is not as common as one may think. About 10% of people with concussions experience brief unconsciousness. But it is a pretty sure sign of a brain injury. Excessive sleepiness or trouble staying awake are also signs. 

Nausea and Vomiting

Feelings of nausea and vomiting may happen immediately after an injury, later that night, or even a day or two afterward. While vomiting is common and a common sign of a concussion, repeated and excessive vomiting may be a sign of more significant head trauma. 

Headaches

Headaches and head pressure are also common signs of a concussion. If you have a headache that gets worse or doesn't improve after a day or two, seek medication attention immediately. 


Other symptoms include fatigue, sensitivity to light or noise, blurred vision, dizziness, and mood changes. Although it's rare, some people develop seizures. If you suspect a concussion, you should get checked out ASAP. It's important to treat a concussion as soon as possible to prevent complications.   

Concussions and Children

More than 800,000 children visit the emergency room for a TBI every year and many more sustain a concussion without an ER visit. Why are kids more prone to concussions than adults? Their brains are still developing and more susceptible to injury. 


Your child might not be able to describe their symptoms accurately, so be on the lookout for:


  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased irritability
  • Lack of interest in playing or activities
  • Loss of balance
  • Changes in school behavior or interest


If you suspect your child has a concussion, your doctor will ask you and your child questions about the injury as well as dig deeper into their medical history. Mild TBIs don't usually show up on CT scans or an MRI, so your doctor will only order those tests if they suspect a more severe head injury. 


If you suspect there might be ANY chance that your child has suffered from a concussion, be sure to make an appointment with your healthcare provider right away.


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Caesar Djavaherian, MD, MS, FACEP

As Carbon Health’s Chief Innovation Officer, Caesar Djavaherian, MD, MS, FACEP, guides clinical innovation through product development, service expansion, and partnerships with transformative companies working to improve the healthcare ecosystem. He is an emergency medicine physician, a former high school teacher, and a reformed academic researcher. Caesar co-founded Direct Urgent Care to deliver technology-enabled urgent care throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. He has practiced at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the University Hospital of Columbia, and Weill Cornell Medicine. In his spare time, Caesar advises healthcare startups, cheers on the Warriors, tries various HIIT workouts, and daydreams about what the future of health will look like.


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