Definition

What is post-concussion syndrome?

Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder in which various symptoms such as headaches and dizziness last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion. Concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury, usually occurring after a blow to the head. Loss of consciousness isn’t required for a diagnosis of concussion or post-concussion syndrome. In fact, the risk of post-concussion syndrome doesn’t appear to be associated with the severity of the initial injury. Post-concussion syndrome treatments are aimed at easing specific symptoms.

How common is post-concussion syndrome?

In most people, post-concussion syndrome symptoms occur within the first seven to 10 days and go away within three months, though they can persist for a year or more. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome?

The common symptoms of this condition are:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of concentration and memory
  • Noise and light sensitivity

Headaches that occur after a concussion can vary and may feel like tension-type headaches or migraines. Most, however, are tension-type headaches, which may be associated with a neck injury that happened at the same time as the head injury.

In some cases, people experience behavior or emotional changes after a mild traumatic brain injury. Family members may notice that the person has become more irritable, suspicious, argumentative or stubborn.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes post-concussion syndrome?

It is believed that post-concussion symptoms are caused by structural damage to the brain or disruption of neurotransmitter systems, resulting from the impact that caused the concussion. However, some other experts believe post-concussion symptoms are related to psychological factors, especially since the most common symptoms, headache, dizziness and sleep problems, are similar to those often experienced by people diagnosed with depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.

In many cases, both physiological effects of brain trauma and emotional reactions to these effects play a role in the development of symptoms. Researchers haven’t determined why some people who’ve had concussions develop persistent post-concussion symptoms while others do not. No proven correlation between the severity of the injury and the likelihood of developing persistent post-concussion symptoms exists.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for post-concussion syndrome?

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

Age

Studies have found increasing age to be a risk factor for post-concussion syndrome.

Sex

Women are more likely to be diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, but this may be because women are generally more likely to seek medical care.

Trauma

Concussions resulting from car collisions, falls, assaults and sports injuries are commonly associated with post-concussion syndrome

Diagnosis & treatment

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

How is post-concussion syndrome 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. A computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be performed to detect brain abnormalities. If you’re experiencing a lot of dizziness, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in ear, nose and throat complaints. A referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist may be in order if your symptoms include anxiety or depression, or if you’re having problems with memory or problem-solving.

How is post-concussion syndrome treated?

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment option for post-concussion syndrome. Instead, your doctor will treat the individual symptoms you’re experiencing. The types of symptoms and their frequency are unique to each person.

Headaches

Medications commonly used for migraines or tension headaches, including some antidepressants, appear to be effective when these types of headaches are associated with post-concussion syndrome.

Examples include: Amitriptyline. This medication has been widely used for post-traumatic injuries, as well as for symptoms commonly associated with post-concussion syndrome, such as irritability, dizziness and depression. You should Keep in mind that the overuse of over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers may contribute to persistent post-concussion headaches.

Memory and thinking problems

No medications are currently recommended specifically for the treatment of cognitive problems after mild traumatic brain injury. Time may be the best therapy for post-concussion syndrome if you have cognitive problems, as most of them go away on their own in the weeks to months following the injury. Certain forms of cognitive therapy may be helpful, including focused rehabilitation that provides training in how to use a pocket calendar, electronic organizer or other techniques to work around memory deficits and attention skills. Relaxation therapy also may help.

Depression and anxiety

The symptoms of post-concussion syndrome often improve after the affected person learns that there is a cause for his or her symptoms and that they will likely improve with time. Education about the disorder can ease a person’s fears and help provide peace of mind.)

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage post-concussion syndrome?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with this condition:

  • Fasten your seat belt whenever you’re traveling in a car, and be sure children are in age-appropriate safety seats. Children under 13 are safest riding in the back seat, especially if your car has air bags.
  • Use helmets whenever you or your children are bicycling, roller-skating, in-line skating, ice-skating, skiing, snowboarding, playing football, batting or running the bases in softball or baseball, skateboarding, or horseback riding. Wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle.
  • Take steps around the house to prevent falls, such as removing small area rugs, improving lighting and installing handrails.

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: August 31, 2017 | Last Modified: August 31, 2017