Even a “mild” concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can seriously affect brain function for some time. In a so-called mild concussion, the initial effects might be less severe than more serious TBIs and can include headaches and problems concentrating and remembering. The concussion can also affect balance and coordination. Children suffering from mild concussions can appear listless, tired, or cranky.
Remember that, because concussion symptoms can appear gradually, you always want to consult a physician if you or a loved one have suffered head trauma. Then, if someone else’s negligence caused the concussion, reach out to a lawyer to determine if you can recover compensation from the responsible party to pay for your medical treatments.
A headache, not surprisingly, is one of the most common symptoms after a concussion—whether you are an adult or a child. That headache may resolve in a week or less, though some victims experience chronic headaches due to a concussion.
Resting is important after a concussion, especially avoiding activities that seem to worsen the headaches. Resting means avoiding strenuous exercise, driving, working at a screen, and close-up reading or writing. You might manage headaches with over-the-counter medications and by ensuring that the resting place is cool and dark. Ice packs may help some people while getting plenty of sleep and regular nutrition and hydration are useful as well.
Nausea and Vomiting
Patients often experience nausea after a mild concussion. The concussion brings on nausea when one or more of several concussion symptoms work together. Nausea and vomiting can occur because of inflammation and small structural damage in the brain. These can interfere with communication in the brain, and this less efficient communication may result in nausea. Eventually, the communication might return, so the nausea dissipates. The concussion can also bring about changes in blood pressure and blood flow, and those can cause nausea.
Concussions can also cause vision and balance problems that can lead to nausea. The concussion can disturb the functions of the inner-ear balance system and make orienting oneself to the world a nausea-inducing situation. Add this to visual distortions, and the world can become a pretty difficult place to stand up in.
A lot of things about your eyes can be troublesome after a concussion. Victims can experience double vision, eye pay, difficulty with close work, and other vision problems. These symptoms can also work to increase problems with balance and nausea.
Some vision problems include:
- Focusing – this can cause blurry vision, headaches, fatigue, and poor performance at work or school.
- Eyes failing to work together – this can lead to double vision, poor depth perception, fatigue, eye pain, poor reading, and reduced vision in one eye.
- Depth perception – when a concussion causes poor depth perception, the results may include clumsiness, loss of 3D vision, difficulty driving or riding a bike, or even walking and climbing stairs.
- Peripheral vision– a concussion can cause your brain to pay too much attention to its surroundings. The overload of information from your peripheral vision can cause nausea, headaches, and dizziness in crowded spaces. On the other hand, you can lose part of your visual field and miss important details around you. This change can result in an increased chance of running into people or things and difficulty with getting around in general.
- Eyes working together – Your eyes are supposed to “track,” that is, to work together in seeing things. A concussion can cause this tracking to fail. As a result, you may experience difficulties in reading, including keeping track of where you are and even seeing all of the words on the page. You can also develop problems with hand-eye coordination and with following a moving object.
Fatigue is a very common post-concussion symptom that arises from several factors. First, your brain will not be working as efficiently as usual. This loss of efficiency will lead to a limited ability to multi-task and slower performance in general.
Mental and physical activity will take more effort, resulting in a rapid onset of mental fatigue and feeling overwhelmed. In other words, your brain has to work a lot harder than it usually does, making you feel tired. The ensuing fatigue can, unfortunately, make a lot of your other symptoms feel worse as well.
The stress of the concussion and its related discomforts can also contribute to post-concussion fatigue in a cycle in which the emotional disturbances caused by the concussion exacerbate the other symptoms, which then increase the emotional upset. It is best to try to remain calm and to get sufficient rest to encourage less stress.
The activities you engage in after a concussion may contribute to fatigue. Activities that require a lot of mental energy, such as reading, working on a digital screen, and mental work should be limited. It will be harder to concentrate in general, so you should also avoid noisy and busy environments.
Healing uses energy. As your brain and body heal themselves, you will experience fatigue because you are spending your stores of energy focused on healing. You can deal with this fact by making sure to rest, get sufficient sleep, and eat as healthily as possible through your post-concussion nausea.
Ringing in the Ears
Tinnitus or ringing in the ears is a common post-concussion symptom, with more than half of victims experiencing it. Although colloquially called ringing, tinnitus can sound like hissing, static, buzzing, a single extended note, or a dial tone. Any of these sounds will be distracting and disruptive of your normal routine.
The ringing may result from the trauma itself or from some of the medications used to treat the various symptoms of a mild concussion. Inform your physician about the ringing in your ears because it can bring on other problems. Persistent tinnitus affects concentration and mood. Although it might go away for some within 48 hours or so, it can last for weeks or months and will increase the fatigue and irritability following a mild concussion.
Taking Necessary Steps
Concussion symptoms often appear slowly and can get worse over time. For this reason, the severity of a concussion can be difficult to determine, and it is always best to see medical personnel. If you believe you or a loved one has experienced a concussion, you should seek medical advice promptly so that the resulting injuries can receive treatment as necessary.