Signs Of A Concussion – Checklist

A concussion is a common brain injury that is often sustained in contact sports. A simple blow to the head can cause a concussion, even if the signs and symptoms don’t appear right away. When a concussion occurs, symptoms may not develop right away and even if they do, they may not be easily recognized. For this reason, concussions can be difficult to diagnose. Because of the serious injury that can occur as a result of suffering a repeat concussion, it is important to learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion.

Some concussion symptoms develop immediately after the brain injury occurs. In some cases, symptoms are not noticeable until hours or even days after the injury occurred. The type of symptoms and when they develop depend largely on the severity of the brain injury. There are three different categories for concussions, based on the severity of the injury. A simple concussion results in minor symptoms that improve within 7 days. Complex concussions result in persistent symptoms that last for longer than 10 days. A concussion is also considered complex if the individual has previously suffered from a concussion.

Symptoms fall into categories based on the type of symptoms exhibited and the effect they have on the individual.

Head Symptoms

Head symptoms are the most common symptoms that are exhibited after a concussion. They generally develop immediately after the injury occurs and can last for several days. Head symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling pressure in the head
  • Seeing stars
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms affect an individual’s cognitive abilities. They may occur immediately after the brain injury occurs or they can take longer to develop. They may occur in both simple and complex concussions. Cognitive symptoms include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Feeling as if in a fog
  • Amnesia
  • Poor memory
  • Saying things that don’t make sense
  • Difficulty concentrating

Personality Change Symptoms

Many individuals who suffer from a concussion develop symptoms that affect their personality. Personality changes can occur in both simple and complex concussions. Although they can develop immediately after an injury occurs, they are more commonly noticed several hours or even a few days after the traumatic event. Personality change symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Psychological adjustment difficulties

General Symptoms

Some symptoms that commonly occur with a concussion do not fit into a specific category. They are general symptoms that can affect different aspects of body functions and can develop either immediately after the injury or days later. General symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Strange taste in the mouth
  • Disorders affecting the sense of smell

Symptoms In Children

Although many concussion symptoms are similar for both children and adults alike, there are some specific symptoms that are commonly exhibited among children suffering from a concussion. Many parents are surprised to learn that some of these seemingly insignificant symptoms are actually important factors in diagnosing a concussion in children. Common concussion symptoms in children include:

  • Listlessness
  • Tiring easily
  • Irritability
  • Crankiness
  • Change in eating habits
  • Disturbance in sleeping pattern
  • Lack of interest in favorite toys or activities
  • Loss of balance
  • Unsteady gait
  • Loss of appetite

Symptoms In Children That Require Emergency Attention

Children may be less likely than adults to recognize when something is not right in their bodies. Children have the ability to dismiss symptoms and continue on with their normal routine. When evaluating a child for a concussion, it is important for parents to watch for certain symptoms that would require immediate medical attention. Parents should seek immediate emergency attention if any of the following symptoms are present:

  • Vomiting
  • Worsening headache
  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in physical coordination
  • Confusion
  • Speech disturbances
  • Changes in pupils
  • Recurring or lingering dizziness
  • Bloody nose
  • Fluid leaking from the nose
  • Blood or fluid discharge from the ears

Symptoms In Adults That Require Immediate Emergency Attention

While all symptoms that occur after a brain injury should be evaluated by a physician to rule out a concussion, there are certain symptoms that require immediate emergency attention. Symptoms that should be immediately evaluated by a physician include:

  • Loss of consciousness that lasts for more than one minute
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty with mental function
  • Problems with coordination
  • Any concussion symptoms that worsen over time

Considerations

Concussions take time to heal. While most concussions are mild and do not cause ling term problems, concussions can be serious. It is important to be evaluated by a physician if concussion symptoms develop after a brain injury occurs.

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