A concussion is caused by a blow to the head or body that causes the brain to move in an abnormal direction. The brain can move in all directions, but it normally moves in a direction that helps keep the skull in place.
If you’ve recently suffered a concussion, you may feel dizzy or have a headache.
For example, you may feel dizzy or lightheaded if you’ve had a hard fall or hit to the head. You may also have a headache if you’ve had a blow to the head that knocked your head forward, or if you have a headache if you’ve had a blow to the head that caused a concussion.
A concussion may also cause symptoms like:
- Sensitivity to light
- Trouble concentrating
- Double vision
- Slurred speech
- Loss of consciousness
Treating a concussion
Treatment for a concussion depends on the type of concussion you’ve had and what you’ve been doing.
If you’ve had a mild concussion, you may not need treatment.
If you’ve had a moderate or severe concussion, it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible.
If you’ve had a concussion, you may need to stay in the hospital. This may be the case if you:
- Are vomiting or have trouble breathing
- Have trouble talking
- Have lost consciousness
- Are in severe pain
- Are bleeding
- Have a fever
If you’re feeling dizzy or lightheaded or have any of the other symptoms of a concussion, call 911 or have someone drive you to the emergency room.
How to prevent a concussion?
You can’t always prevent a concussion, but you can take precautions to reduce your risk of getting one.
To help prevent a concussion, you can:
- Don’t get hit in the head.
- Don’t play head-to-head contact sports.
- Try to stay off your feet.
- Avoid playing contact sports if you have a head injury in the past.
- Use the appropriate helmet for your sport.
- Avoid playing sports where you’re likely to get hit hard or hit from behind.
What to do if you have a concussion?
Here are a few things you can do to help treat a concussion:
- Rest. If you’re able to, keep the head of your bed elevated.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Take aspirin (Bayer).
- Take acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Take anti-seizure drugs (phenytoin, carbamazepine).
- Take anti-inflammatory drugs (naproxen, ibuprofen).
- Take muscle relaxers (baclofen).
- Take anti-seizure drugs (phenytoin, levetiracetam).
- Use cold or heat therapy.
- Use a neck brace.
- Use a helmet.
- Avoid any activities that might cause a head injury.
- Don’t play contact sports.
- Get enough sleep.
If you have any of the following, you should get immediate medical help:
- You have trouble breathing
- You’re bleeding
- You’re losing consciousness
- You have a fever
- You’re in severe pain
- You have a seizure
- You have a convulsion
Recovery time after a concussion
If you have a concussion, you will be at risk for recurring symptoms. The longer you’ve had a concussion, the more likely that you’ll have symptoms again.
If you have a concussion, it’s important to take precautions to help prevent a second concussion. These may include:
- Making sure you’re getting enough sleep.
- Avoiding high-impact activities.
- Avoiding contact sports.
- Avoiding sports where you might get hit hard or hit from behind.
- Using a helmet.
When to call your doctor?
Some symptoms of a concussion may look like other conditions or problems. Always talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.
For example, lightheadedness can look like the flu or other conditions.
Also, talk to your doctor if you have any symptoms of a concussion that come on suddenly. These symptoms could be a sign of a more severe concussion.
How does a doctor diagnose a concussion?
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms. They’ll also ask about your head injury and about what happened.
Your doctor will also do a physical exam. They’ll look for signs of a head injury.
Your doctor may order a head CT scan to check for other problems.
How is a concussion treated?
Treatment for a concussion depends on what happened and how severe the concussion was. Some people may need to stay in the hospital.
Treatment for a mild concussion may include:
- Rest. You may be able to rest at home. Try to stay at home for at least 24 hours after the injury.
- Taking aspirin (Bayer).
- Taking acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Taking anti-seizure drugs (phenytoin, carbamazepine).
- Taking anti-inflammatory drugs (naproxen, ibuprofen).
- Taking muscle relaxers (baclofen).
- Taking anti-seizure drugs (phenytoin, levetiracetam).
- Using cold or heat therapy.
- Using a neck brace.
Your doctor may also prescribe pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Treatment for a moderate or severe concussion may include:
- Rest. You may need to rest for at least 1 week.
- Getting plenty of rest.
- Keeping the head of your bed elevated.
- Avoiding activities that might cause a head injury.
The more of these symptoms you have, the more likely you are to have a second concussion.
If you have a concussion, you may be at risk for:
- Post-concussion syndrome.
- Chronic post-concussion syndrome.
- Memory problems.
- Sleep problems.
- Hearing problems.
What’s the outlook for someone with a concussion?
Recovering from a concussion takes time. You should expect to feel a little stiff and sore for a few days.
In the long term, you may have problems with memory and concentration. You may also have headaches, dizziness, and a variety of other problems.
It’s important to follow the advice of your doctor and take all the precautions you can.
The bottom line
A concussion is a type of mild brain injury. Symptoms can last for days or weeks, depending on the type of concussion.
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