If you’ve ever played football, been in a wreck, or suffered a nasty fall, there’s a decent chance that you could have experienced a concussion. In fact, it’s been estimated that nearly half of concussions go undiagnosed.

By having a better understanding of these injuries, we can all be on the lookout and make sure that people get the treatment that they need. Let’s take a look at what causes concussions, the most common symptoms, and what someone should do if they’ve suffered one.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that affects your brain function. In many cases sudden movement forces someone’s body to move back and forth quickly, causing the brain to bounce or twist around in the skull.

Oftentimes concussions occur after some physical blow to the head, but they can happen without any direct contact to someone’s skull. For example, a car crash can cause someone’s body to be quickly and violently pushed forward, backwards, or side to side. This sudden acceleration and deceleration can cause a concussion without any direct contact to the head.

Although many people describe concussions as “mild” traumatic brain injuries because they are not life threatening, their effects are still incredibly serious.

What are common symptoms?

After a concussion, symptoms can be as dramatic as losing consciousness or as subtle as light headaches. They can last for days, weeks, or even longer. Some common symptoms are:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Memory loss – particularly surrounding the injury
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • New sensitivity to light and noise
  • Irritability or other personality changes

The person that has suffered a concussion may be unaware of their symptoms. It’s not uncommon for a loved one to notice changes in behavior long before the injured person themselves.

How do you treat a concussion?

Unfortunately, there is no medical “cure” for a concussion. However, that does not mean that someone should not consult their doctor if they’re experiencing any of the symptoms.

Timely diagnosis is key for recovery. If you or someone that you know has suffered any blow to the head or other injury that could cause a concussion, reach out to your doctor immediately.

Never try to “tough it out.” Your doctor’s instructions could be as simple as monitoring your behavior over the next several days or as urgent as ordering brain scans to ensure that no further damage has been done.

Remember – every injury is unique. Someone suffering from a concussion could experience any combination of symptoms. When it comes to brain injuries, you can never be too careful.

The majority of this information was sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Please consult with your doctor(s) before making any medical decisions.