Concussion: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Overview

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that affects your brain function. There are three situations that you may get a concussion: a direct blow to the head, a collision in impact sports and a violent shake of the head or the upper body. Concussion will not bring life-threatening symptoms, but they can be very serious sometimes. For instance, you may have a severe headache, lose your balance, or fall unconscious after concussion.

Statistics has shown that there are more than 3 million cases per year in the US. Among all these cases, 300 thousand are sports-related, as it is reported by the University of Pittsburgh’s Brain Trauma Research Center.

Causes

Concussion causes can be divided into two categories: sports-related concussions and non-sports concussions.

Sports-Related Causes

  • Boxing

A knockout or repetitive blow in boxing can make the boxer have a concussion.

  • Football

Football has by far the largest incidence of concussions in youth sports

  • Other sports

Other sports involving body contacts like volleyball, cheerleading, softball, baseball, basketball, and lacrosse, are all responsible for increasing concussions to players since the late 20th century.

Non-Sports Concussion Causes

  • Battlefield factors

The concussion causes in combat are well documented and tend to be most often related to explosions. And other causes of military or combat-related concussions are usually vehicle collisions, falls,

  • Genetics

At present, there is no clear genetic marker to identify higher injury risk or adverse outcomes. However, in both sports and military data, women seem to be less likely to have concussions than men.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a concussion can be subtle. Some symptoms can show up immediately, others may be delayed and last for days, weeks or even longer.

Immediate symptoms of a concussion may include:

  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Temporary loss of consciousness and memory
  • Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  • Dizziness or “seeing stars”
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Appearing dazed
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Losing balance

Other symptoms may be delayed for hours or days after injury, such as:

  • Concentration and memory complaints
  • Irritability and other personality changes
  • Mild headaches
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Psychological adjustment problems and depression
  • Disorders of taste and smell

Concussion clues in children may include:

  • Appearing dazed
  • Listlessness and tiring easily
  • Irritability and crankiness
  • Loss of balance and unsteady walking
  • Crying excessively
  • Change in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Lack of interest in favorite toys

Diagnosis

You will be sent to the emergency room, if you accidentally fall down, have an accident, or an incident on an athletic playing field. Your doctor will usually begin the diagnosis with:

  • A detailed inquiry about how the injury happened and its symptoms.
  • A physical examination to determine what symptoms are.

Then, to determine the range and severity of post-concussion symptoms, your doctor may perform or recommend the following tests:

  • Neurological examination
  • Cognitive testing
  • Imaging tests including CT and MRI test

Treatment

Most concussions don’t require surgery or any major medical treatment. General advice for treating a concussion includes the following:

  • Avoiding strenous activites. For example, riding bicycles and lifting heavy things.
  • Refraing from visual and sensory stimuli from TV and computer.
  • Drinking alcohol only when it is permitted by your doctor.
  • Eating well-balanced meals.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers if you have a prolonged headache.
  • Having enough rest and sleep.

Keywords: concussion, tramatic brain injury.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.