Concussions get a lot of press these days. Mostly because of the facts on concussions that are being presented in relation to contact sports like football,hockey and boxing. Do I have a concussion? That’s a question that needs to be answered by having a look at some of the signs and symptoms.
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that is not usually life threatening. They can happen after an impact to the head or when the head is shaken violently as in the case of the whiplash effect after being rear ended in a car crash. Concussions need to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible because they can cause serious symptoms and long lasting effects if left untreated.
Do I Have A Concussion?
In years gone by, the awareness and recognition of head injuries such as concussions was limited. In sports we used to call it “getting your bell rung,” and in most cases it was left untreated. Worse still, the athlete kept on playing and risked more damage without even realizing it. Luckily those days are gone and the diagnosis and treatment of concussions has progressed. The causes and symptoms are taken more seriously and without a doubt, this has resulted in fewer permanent brain injuries.
If you are involved in organized sports these days the coaches, trainers and parents are more knowledgeable about injuries and symptoms of concussions. There is a protocol now that keeps athletes from returning after an injury to the head until they are symptom free for a specified period of time. The rest of us don’t have coaches and trainers and it is up to us to recognize the symptoms and get treatment ourselves.
Signs And Symptoms Of Concussion
The following symptoms do not occur in all concussions. You may notice a few of them after head trauma and they may only last for a few hours or they may take weeks or months to end. Most people will recover from a concussion with proper rest and by avoiding physical activities that could cause more trauma. In any event if you get bonked in the head and notice any of these after effects, see your doctor right away for advice and treatment.
- Dizziness and balance problems
- Not thinking clearly or being able to concentrate
- Lack of energy and feeling tired
- Sensitivity to light and noises
- Blurred or fuzzy vision
- Headaches, nausea and vomiting
- Disturbance of sleep patterns, could be sleeping more or less than usual
Treatments For Concussions
Hopefully you will have seen a doctor and can follow his guidelines for treatment of your concussion. Here are some additional things that you can do at home to speed up your recovery.
The number one treatment is to rest. Get plenty of sleep and keep physical activities to a minimum
Take your doctor’s advice when it comes to driving and returning to work. By taking it easy it means mentally as well as physically. Stay away from your computer, video games, working from home or studying. The brain has been injured and needs to rest. Use pain medications that are prescribed by your doctor or over the counter relief (if recommended) like acetaminophen. To relieve any pain or swelling you can use a cold pack or ice on your head for several minutes a few times a day. Avoid returning to physical activities too soon that could cause further trauma and lead to more serious brain injury. You only have one brain, look after it.
Concussions In Children
If you notice a change in your child’s behavior it could be a sign of a concussion. If they start to become uninterested in play and appear uncoordinated that could be a symptom. Becoming overly cranky, tired and listless and other changes in sleep and behavior are also signs of a potential concussion. Anytime that your child has a fall or bumps their head hard there is a chance of concussion. Watch for signs and symptoms and get them in to your doctor if you notice any changes, headaches or other symptoms.
How To Prevent A Concussion
You know what they say. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s impossible to avoid all injuries in life, but you can do some things to make them fewer and farther between. Wearing helmets has become the norm these days while engaging in activities that increase accidents such as ice skating, tobogganing, skateboarding and biking. It is up to us as parents to set a good example for our kids. Accidents happen and I would rather look a little goofy in a helmet than end up with head trauma.
A more in depth and totally boring definition of concussions can be found at Wikopedia if you need more information.
Have a great day and if you are a heavy drinker, maybe you should wear a helmet too. Be safe.