How to Treat a Concussion
A concussion is a common type of brain injury. Concussions can trigger cognitive, emotional and physical symptoms which are unrecognizable if subtle. You are more likely to suffer from a concussion if you are actively engaged in contact sports such as soccer, ice hockey and football.
For every concussion that you incur, there is added harm to your brain and that’s why sports such as boxing, football and rugby are widely regarded as dangerous games.
Examples of symptoms you are most likely to display if you have a concussion include dizziness, ringing in the ears, confusion, headache, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, slurred speech, sensitivity to noise and light, sleep disturbances and disorders of smell and taste.
If left untreated, concussions can trigger a myriad of health complications, for example:
- Second impact syndrome: Experiencing a second concussion before symptoms and signs of the first concussion resolve may lead to rapid and fatal brain swelling.
- Epilepsy: People who have experienced a concussion have high chances of developing epilepsy after or within the first four years of the injury.
- Effects of brain injury: People who have suffered from this condition have developed multiple concussive brain injuries. This results to progressive and even lasting cognitive impairment that limits a person’s functional ability
Tests and Diagnosis
If a blow to the neck, upper body or head has brought about symptoms such as dizziness, headache, loss of consciousness and nausea, then you have had a concussion. Symptoms and signs of these injuries may fail to appear until days or hours after the injury. Brain imaging is done so as to know whether the injury has caused bleeding, swelling and its severity.
Tests that your doctor may recommend include:
You may be hospitalized for observation after experiencing a concussion. If your doctor agrees that you should be observed at home, then someone is supposed to check on you every hour for a period of at least 24 hours.
- Imaging tests
Cranial computerized tomography is performed so as to examine the brain immediately after injury. One needs a scan only if they are adults, fell from a height of 3 feet and more, under the influence of drugs and alcohol, have memory loss, had a seizure, suffered bruises on the neck and head, vomited multiple times and are confused.
- Neurological exam
A neurological exam is performed after a doctor asks questions about your injury. The evaluation includes checking for reflexes, vision, hearing, memory and concentration, balance, coordination, strength and sensation.
Treatment and drugs
Rest is the best treatment for someone who needs to recover from a concussion. This includes avoiding activities that need mental concentration such as watching TV, playing video games, using a computer or texting. School workloads should be temporarily reduced.
For headaches, use Tylenol. Avoid pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) as these medications might have a possibility of increasing the risk of bleeding.
If your child had a concussion while playing sports, it is important to ask your child’s doctor or your doctor when it is advisable to return to play. Going back to sports too soon raises the risk of another concussion which might be a potentially fatal brain injury.
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