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Definition

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. Though there are possibly cuts or bruises on the head or face, there may be no other visible signs of a brain injury. You don’t have to pass out (lose consciousness) to have a concussion. Some people will have obvious symptoms of a concussion, such as passing out or forgetting what happened right before the injury, but other people won’t. With rest, most people fully recover from a concussion. Some people recover within a few hours. Other people take a few weeks to recover.

How common is a concussion?

Anyone can become injured during a fall, car accident, or any other daily activity. If you participate in impact sports such as football or boxing, you have an increased risk of getting a concussion.

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of a concussion?

Signs and symptoms of a concussion are various depending on both the severity of the injury and the person injured. It is not true that a loss of consciousness always occurs with a concussion. Some people do experience a loss of consciousness, but others do not.

The symptoms may start instantly, or they may not develop for hours, days, weeks, or even months following the injury. Some common signs of a concussion may include:

  • Brief loss of consciousness after the injury
  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness or feeling sluggish
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision or blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Balance problems
  • Slowed reaction to stimuli

During the recovery period after a concussion, you may have the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mild headaches

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Loss of consciousness, even if only briefly
  • Any period of amnesia, or loss of memory for the event
  • Feeling dazed or confused
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Seizure
  • In addition, for children under 2 years of age, any scalp swelling or abnormality in the way they usually behave.

Causes

What causes a concussion?

Your brain has the consistency of gelatin. It is cushioned from everyday jolts and bumps by cerebrospinal fluid inside your skull. A violent blow to your head and neck or upper body can cause your brain to slide back and forth forcefully against the inner walls of your skull.

Sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head, resulting from certain events such as a car crash or being violently shaken, also can engender brain injury.

These injuries influence brain function, usually for a brief period, resulting in signs and symptoms of concussion.

A brain injury of this sort may lead to bleeding in or around your brain, causing symptoms such as prolonged drowsiness and confusion that may develop right away or later.

Such bleeding in your brain can be fatal. That’s why anyone who experiences a brain injury needs monitoring in the hours afterward and emergency care if symptoms worsen.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for a concussion?

There are many risk factors for health condition, such as:

  • Participating in a high-risk sport, such as football, hockey, soccer, rugby, boxing or other contact sport; the risk is further increased if there’s a lack of proper safety equipment and supervision
  • Being involved in a motor vehicle collision
  • Being involved in a pedestrian or bicycle accident
  • Being a soldier involved in combat
  • Being a victim of physical abuse
  • Falling, especially in young children and older adults
  • Having had a previous concussion

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is a concussion diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed and some tests will be also recommended by your doctor. Your doctor may ask you questions that test your ability to pay attention and your learning and memory. Your doctor may also try to find out how quickly you can solve problems. He or she may also show you objects and then hide them and ask you to recall what they are. Then the doctor will check your strength, balance, coordination, reflexes, and sensation. Neuropsychological tests have become more widely used after a concussion. These tests are only one of many ways that your doctor can find out how well you are thinking and remembering after a concussion. These tests can also show if you have any changes in emotions or mood after a concussion. Sometimes a doctor will order imaging tests such as a CT scan or an MRI to make sure your brain is not bruised or bleeding.

How is a concussion treated?

Treatment for a concussion bases on the severity of your symptoms. You might need surgery or other medical procedures if you have bleeding in the brain, swelling of the brain, or a serious injury to the brain. However, fortunately most concussions do not require surgery or any major medical treatment.

During the first 24 hours after the injury, your doctor may ask that someone wakes you every two to three hours. This ensures that you haven’t gone into a coma and also allows someone to check for signs of severe confusion or abnormal behavior.

In case the concussion is causing headaches, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Your doctor will also possibly ask you to get plenty of rest, avoid sports and other strenuous activities, and avoid driving a vehicle or riding a bike for 24 hours or even few months, depending on the severity of your injury. Alcohol might slow recovery, so ask your doctor if you should avoid drinking it. If you should avoid alcohol, ask your doctor for how long.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage a concussion?

By wearing the correct helmet and other athletic safety gear during sports activities, you can decrease your risk of getting a concussion. Always make sure the helmet and other gear fits properly and are worn appropriately. Asking a coach or other sports professional about safe playing technique, and making sure to follow their advice is highly recommended. If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: June 29, 2017 | Last Modified: June 29, 2017

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