What is a Concussion?

Concussion Symptoms Including the Headache it Causes

How Concussions Cause Headaches
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The fear of a concussion is always there if you or your child plays a contact-intensive sport like football. In fact, widespread news reports on concussions have led many parents to remove their children from these activities.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a mild brain injury. While concussions are typically associated with sport-related injuries, they can also occur from car accidents and falls.

Any sort of strong impact to the head, neck, or even upper body can lead to a concussion. Sometimes people who suffer from concussions can lose consciousness for a brief period of time following the injury. But more commonly, people suffer from a short period of confusion and headache.

Fortunately, the majority of concussion are not serious. But, occasionally they lead to long-term health consequences, both physically and mentally. These health effects can negatively impact an individual's daily functioning and quality of life.

What are the Symptoms of a Concussion?

After a concussion, it's  important to be evaluated by a doctor, so your symptoms can be assessed appropriately. Often times, the symptoms of a concussion can be predicted by the location of the head trauma. For instance, an injury in the occipital region of the brain (back of the head) may produce dizziness or vision disturbances, whereas an injury to the front of the head may produce personality or emotional changes.

A doctor's evaluation is also important to determine whether further tests such as a CT scan or MRI of the brain is needed to rule out more serious injuries to the brain.

Other examples of symptoms that may be present with a concussion include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • sensitivity to light
  • sensitivity to sound
  • memory loss
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability, sadness, or nervousness
  • drowsiness
  • change in sleep pattern

What is a Concussion-Related Headache?

A mild concussion headache may feel like a migraine or tension headache and develops within 7 days of the trauma.

What is the Treatment of a Concussion?

If your doctor determines that you suffered a concussion, he will likely recommend rest as the primary treatment. For your headache, treatment with a mild over-the-counter pain reliever, such as tylenol or ibuprofen, is usually all that is needed. If the concussion was a sport-related injury, your doctor will determine when it's safe for you to return to the sport and monitor your symptoms -- which should improve within the next 7 to 10 days. He will also review ways for you to prevent a concussion in the future, like wearing a helmet when riding a bike or when playing certain sports, like football.

Sources:

Bloom, J.,  & Blount, J. Sideline evaluation of concussion. In: UpToDate, Basow DS (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, (Accessed Feb 16th, 2014).

Finkel, A.G. Concussion and Post-Traumatic Headache. American Headache Society.

Gioia G, Collins M. (2006). Acute Concussion Evaluation: Physician/Clinician Office Version CDC.

Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society. "The International Classification of Headache Disorders: 2nd Edition". Cephalalgia 2004;24 Suppl 1:9-160.

http://www.bt.cdc.gov/masscasualties/pdf/glasgow-coma-scale.pdf (Accessed on Feb 16, 2014).

Teasdale, G., & Jennett, B. Assessment of coma and impaired consciousness. Lancet, 1974; 81-84.

Teasdale, G., & Jennett, B. Assessment and prognosis of coma after head injury. Acta Neurochir., 1976; 34:45-55.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this site is for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your doctor for advice, diagnosis, and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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