Do I Have a Concussion?

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Concussion x-ray

Ouch! Whether you’ve fallen off a ladder or taken an especially hard hit during the big game, a blow to the head hurts. But how do you know when to dust yourself off and keep going or when you should go to your local FastMed Urgent Care to get treatment for a concussion? The start of football season is a great time to talk about the importance of helmets and safety practices, but concussions can happen both on and off the field.

A concussion is a traumatic injury that occurs when the brain is jarred or shaken inside the skull. Contrary to popular myth, you can have a concussion without losing consciousness. In fact, there may not be any outward physical signs that you have suffered from a concussion. Symptoms can appear right after an injury, or may not become apparent for days or even weeks. They generally fall into one of four categories:

Cognitive – This includes difficulty thinking clearly and remembering new information, trouble concentrating, and a general sense that you aren’t as quick on the uptake lately. These symptoms may be more easily recognized by others than by the person who is concussed. You may ask the same question multiple times without realizing that you’ve already been given that information. If other people point out that you seem to be having trouble remembering things, don’t be offended; get checked out immediately.

Physical – Of course, if you’ve knocked your head, you’re probably going to have a headache. But if you notice changes to your vision or balance, feel dizzy or nauseous, or begin vomiting, you should see a doctor. Other physical symptoms include a lack of energy and sensitivity to light and noise.

Emotional – Someone who has had a concussion can have emotional symptoms, as well. You may feel angry, irritable, upset, or simply be more emotional in general. You might be prone to bursts of unexplained sadness, or feelings of nervousness or anxiety.

Sleep-Related – A concussion can alter your sleep patterns. Note anything that is different from your usual routine, whether you’re finding it more difficult to fall asleep, sleeping more than usual, or sleeping less.

If you have any of the following symptoms, see a doctor immediately:

  • Multiple episodes of vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness for more than 30 seconds
  • A worsening headache
  • Changes in speech, such as slurring
  • Seizures
  • Dilated pupils or pupils of unequal size

Concussions are relatively common, and most people recover quickly with treatment. If you’ve suffered a blow to the head, take it easy for a few days. Concussions are not restricted to football and hockey players. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the most common reasons for traumatic brain injury-related visits to the emergency room are bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball, and soccer. If you’ve suffered a blow to the head while playing sports, FastMed recommends following up for further evaluation prior to returning to the field.  Even though you might feel better, your brain has been injured and needs time to heal. At FastMed Urgent Care, we see all kinds of bumps, bruises, concussions, and contusions, and we can get you on the fast track to feeling better.

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