While a moderate to severe concussion can take months or even years to recover completely, a mild concussion will typically resolve over 7-14 days. Since a concussion can lead to headache, vision problems, trouble with balance and coordination, and even mood or personality changes, it is important to allow your head time to heal.
6 things to do for a mild concussion
1. Visit your doctor
After a concussion, your doctor may monitor you for a few hours. After you are allowed to go home, you need to have someone stay with you for 1-2 days to check if your symptoms worsen.
One of the most important things to do after a mild concussion is to rest for the first 2-3 days. Avoid bright lights and loud noises, and take a break from work or school. Get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, and eat a healthy diet.
3. Limit activities
Limit activities that require intense focus and concentration:
- Avoid watching TV or using a computer, smartphone or tablet. Activities such as texting or playing video games and bright light from devices put excess strain on your brain and may worsen or trigger your concussion symptoms.
- Avoid engaging in activities that require physical exertion such as sports activities.
However, you don’t need to take extreme measures such as lying in a dark room and avoiding all stimuli. This does not help recovery.
Your doctor may recommend rehabilitation therapies, which can help you manage your symptoms and recover faster. Depending on your issues, you may need to undergo rehabilitation for:
- Vision problems
- Balance problems
- Cognitive problems (thinking and memory)
5. Increase activities gradually
As you start to feel better, you can increase the amount of time you spend at work or school and gradually resume normal activities. Start slow. and take note of which activities you can tolerate without aggravating or triggering your symptoms.
Light exercises can help speed up recovery from a mild concussion. However, make sure you keep your head protected or avoid activities where you can injure your head again.
Your doctor will tell you when you can resume your regular workouts. Light jogging may be fine at first, but heavy lifting or intense cardio should be avoided until your doctor tells you it’s OK. Sports activities should not be resumed for at least a week after a mild concussion.
6. Take pain relief medications
Headache may occur days or weeks after the concussion. You can take over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen for pain relief, but avoid ibuprofen or aspirin because they can increase your risk of brain bleeding.
When to seek urgent medical help
Most people take a few weeks to recover from a mild concussion completely. Some people will still have symptoms for months before they experience complete recovery. Seek medical attention immediately if you symptoms such as:
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