He fell out of his treehouse and hit his head hard. She bumped her head at practice. The car behind you didn’t stop and your head hit the windshield.
Now his head hurts, she’s feeling dizzy and you are feeling nauseous.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a direct blow or bumps to the head. The impact rattles the brain, which can lead to a variety of problems.
There are 3 levels to concussions. Grade 1 concussion has symptoms that last 15 minutes or less and the person doesn’t lose consciousness. A Grade 2 concussion has symptoms that last longer than 15 minutes, but the person doesn’t lose consciousness. The Grade 3 concussion is severe and the person had a loss of consciousness, even if only for a few seconds.
When Should You See a Doctor
If the person loses consciousness, even for a few seconds, they need to see a doctor. A physician can evaluate the severity of the concussion and may order a CT scan or MRI to rule out brain bleeding or other severe complications.
Even if you’re feeling fine right after the accident, if symptoms get worse 24 to 72 hours after, you should see a doctor to rule out anything serious.
Concussions are common, and the general prescription is to rest and wait until the symptoms are gone before returning to activity. Some activities can make the symptoms worse – texting or playing on a cell phone, reading, watching television, playing video games, listening to loud music, or doing any physical activity.
Most importantly, you should not be alone for 72 hours after a concussion so you can be monitored for symptoms by someone so they can call 911 or take you to the hospital if needed.
Seek medical care if you develop these symptoms:
- Severe headache not controlled by over-the-counter medications
- Altered mental status
- Unarousable from sleep
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Change or loss of vision
Additionally, people can take over-the-counter pain relief but should avoid aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil), which could cause bleeding, and should take acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead.
Most people recover from a concussion in 14 to 21 days.
By Amanda Rogers for Surepoint Medical Center
Amanda Rogers is a freelance writer based in Fort Worth, Texas
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