Concussion - Symptoms

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What are the signs and symptoms of concussion?

The signs and symptoms of concussion may be obvious or very subtle. Most patients are unaware that they have sustained a concussion and may not connect their symptoms with a head injury. This is especially true when symptoms develop hours after the initial injury and those events may have been forgotten. Being knocked out (loss of consciousness) or having a seizure after a head injury are not common and may be very dramatic but these two symptoms do not predict the severity of the concussion. Symptoms like mild confusion, disorientation, and irritability are most commonly seen. Symptoms tend not to be objective and may be hard to describe or be appreciated by the patient. Often it is family members or friends who are more aware of the situation.

Typical symptoms of concussion include:

  • Headache
  • Difficulty concentrating or feeling “foggy”
  • Slower reaction times
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty with bright lights or loud sounds
  • Irritability
  • Changes in sleep patterns, either insomnia or sleeping more

Because of all of the above, students may suffer a drop off in their school work and grades, while adults' work performance may suffer.

Physical Signs

The purpose of the physical examination is to look for abnormalities that would point to bleeding in the brain or to a neck injury and spinal cord damage.

The neurologic exam in patients with concussion should be normal.

Return to Concussion

See what others are saying

Comment from: Jhat, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: March 25

It has been 13 months since an auto accident resulted in a concussion. I suffered dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, confusion, headaches, memory loss, poor balance, and mood disorder for several months and still have most of these symptoms at one time or another. I have learned that stress, standing or turning quickly, lights and noises bring the symptoms back. Through meditation, writing things down, Lumosity brain games, and plenty of sleep (9 to 10 hours per night) the symptoms can be minimized. Good Luck and keep a positive attitude.

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Comment from: simonsenfamily, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 13

I was hit in the head with a golf iron which gave me a concussion, loose teeth and stitches. I did have a CT scan which came back negative. It has been 4 months and I am still suffering from the symptoms. I will have episodes where I have to sit in my closet shaking, crying with pain and nausea. I get relief when I put my earplugs in and eye mask on and sleep. Noise, lights, and anything with mental simulation will trigger it. It's like having the worst migraine in your life. I have also noticed behavior changes like being over sensitive, anger, and depression. For relief from my neck pain I have been seeing a chiropractor and massage therapist weekly.

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