While most concussions’ symptoms should last a few days to a few weeks, more severe concussions if left untreated may lead to serious, long-lasting effects. It is always a good idea to keep an eye on your health and mood immediately after a brain injury, and seek immediate medical attention if symptoms persist longer than expected or get worse.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion us a temporary but mild injury to the brain that leads to an immediate change in brain function, including memory and consciousness. The most severe concussions may trigger a loss of consciousness but most of them are accompanied by just temporary headaches, dizziness, or vision impairment.
You can get a concussion in the wake of a fall, blow, or bump to the head. Violently shaking of the upper body or head, such as an abrupt car stop in traffic, may also result in a concussion. More severe concussions need emergency treatment and hospitalization, but most people recover from concussions on their own.
The most exposed demographic to concussions include
- Car crash victims
- Small children
- Elderly persons affected by motor impairment or prone to slip and falls
- People practicing high-risk sports, such as high school football, boxing, ice hockey, wrestling, gymnastics, cyclism, soccer, diving, and horseback riding.
Concussion Signs and Symptoms
Depending on the amount of force involved and location of injury, concussions vary greatly in severity from very mild to extremely severe and so do their symptoms. In mild cases, symptoms may last for only several minutes and usually include:
- Disorientation that goes away quickly
- Headache that doesn’t need medical treatment or goes away with a painkiller
- Felling a bit dazed
- Blurred vision or “seeing stars.”
In moderate cases, symptoms may last longer (up to a few days) than those in mild cases and may include:
- Contusions, namely internal bleeding or bleeding under the skin
- Persistent headaches
- Temporary memory loss
- Temporary balance issues
- Mood swings
- Feeling or being sick
- Double vision or blurred vision
If these symptoms are severe or do not subside after a few days seek medical attention immediately. Also, for the headaches get only aspirin-free pain relief, as aspirin may make internal bleeding worse if you have a contusion too.
In the most severe cases, concussions may leave you severely impaired and even kill you. A severe concussion requires emergency medical attention and always involves a loss of consciousness. Other severe symptoms you should be on the watch out for include:
- Persistent memory issues
- Persistent confusion and disorientation
- Permanently feeling sick after the injury
- Headaches that won’t go away
- Severe mood swings
- Nausea and vomiting
If you experience any of these symptoms after a severe fall or blow to the head, visit your nearest emergency department.
Do Symptoms Get Worse?
The short answer is yes, concussion symptoms can get worse, and if they do, seek a medical professional immediately. In mild to moderate concussions, symptoms subside after a few days especially if there are no blood clots to the brain.
Severe concussions, on the other hand, may start with mild symptoms and gradually get worse in a matter of days. Some concussions need months with medical treatment for a complete recovery, while others may take years for a full recovery. In the worst cases, you may never be able to recover from a brain injury. This is also true for moderate concussions left untreated after symptoms got worse.
In some people, even if the concussion is not that severe, symptoms may persist or get worse after a few months or more. These people might have developed the so-called post-concussion syndrome. The most exposed patients are those that have a history of head trauma or prior concussions and those affected by severe headaches, fogginess, memory loss, fatigue, and other mental changes shortly after the injury.
Women are more likely to develop post-concussion syndrome than men, and so do older people when compared with their younger peers.
To Wrap It Up
Concussion severity varies greatly from very mild, with symptoms that usually subside in a few minutes, to extremely severe, with symptoms and consequences that may last a lifetime such as recurring severe headaches, motor impairment, speech issues, memory loss, paralysis, and even death.
In the event of an accident that didn’t cause you severe head trauma but the symptoms are moderate and last for a few days, you should seek medical assistance immediately as symptoms can get worse without proper treatment. You should also seek medical attention if you have a history of head trauma, practice a high-risk sport, or you belong to the high-risk group for developing post-concussion syndrome.
Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only and cannot, and was not intended to, represent medical advice. If you have a medical emergency, call or text 911 and/or consult with a licensed health care professional immediately.