A concussion is caused by a bump, jolt, or blow to the head. This sudden motion causes the brain to move or twist around inside the skull, resulting in physical damage or chemical changes to brain tissue. Concussion symptoms vary. Some people may not even know they have one, while others experience more serious and notable symptoms. Most people completely recover, but this type of traumatic brain injury should be taken seriously.
A headache is one of the most common symptoms of a concussion and can be caused by physical damage to the brain or chemical changes. While most headaches are treatable using over-the-counter medication, a doctor should confirm that no bleeding has occurred before the individual takes any medication — some OTC pain medications can make bleeding worse. Most headaches from concussion resolve after a few days, but chronic headaches are possible.
Nerve damage in the brain's messaging system can cause confusion after head trauma. Immediately following the injury, the person may be unable to understand what happened, or feel as though they are "in a fog." This is an observable symptom of a concussion, meaning that friends and family can see this behavior and should monitor it carefully.
This is another symptom that may be caused by chemical changes following a concussion. Physical damage can also cause these effects, depending on where the damage is and its severity. Mood, behavior, or personality changes do not occur immediately but can be observed in the hours or days following the injury.
Someone with a concussion may experience balance problems immediately following or soon after the injury. This symptom can be one of the earliest issues noticed by the person with the concussion, or someone else may notice it soon after the incident. Again, both chemical changes and physical damage can lead to balance problems.
Sensitivity to light and noise might occur a few hours or days after a head injury. In cases of a severe concussion, this symptom can last for weeks to months following the incident. Sensitivity to light and noise may coincide with headaches or occur on its own.
Loss of memory after a concussion can be due to chemical changes or damage to brain tissue. It can happen immediately following the event, interfering with the injured person's ability to remember the incident or develop in the hours and days following the concussion.
This goes along with memory and forgetfulness but is important to mention because it is an observable symptom. Someone with a concussion may not be able to follow simple instructions soon after their injury. For example, if the concussion occurred on the playground at recess, the child may not be able to go inside and report to the school nurse as instructed. This can also persist in the hours or days following the injury.
Someone with a concussion may not be able to put their symptoms into words. They often report that they just don't feel right or that they feel "off" or not themselves. These feelings may also manifest as feeling down or depressed. The reasons for this are unclear but both physical and chemical damage in the brain can cause the effect.
Nausea or vomiting can occur immediately after a concussion or hours or days later. It may be caused by the changes in the brain after the injury, but it can also be a sign of something more serious. Repeated vomiting that persists after a concussion or any other brain injury could be a sign of increasing pressure in the brain, which is a medical emergency.
A concussion can injure the brain, nerves, and visual pathways, leading to blurry or double vision. This is typically an early symptom of concussion but may persist for days or weeks following the injury. Note that blurry or double vision can also be the cause behind other observable symptoms of concussion, like dizziness or confusion.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.