A temporary alteration in awareness, consciousness and/or neural function as a result of a blow to the head, falling (and then stopping) sudden jarring or the like. Loss of consciousness is not necessary to sustain a concussion.

The most common are headache, dizziness, ringing in the ears, sensitivity to light, nausea, vomiting and sleep abnormalities. There may be memory abnormalities, not only with past events but with obtaining new information.

Some symptoms last a few minutes while others may last days, weeks or months. It is not uncommon for new symptoms to appear hours or days after the initial injury.

Symptoms can last from a few hours to a few months depending on severity. It is important to be evaluated by a health care provider trained in the assessment and treatment of concussions.

Concussions generally do not cause permanent damage. however, in rare instances a concussion can lead to a bleed within the tissue that surrounds the brain. This can be life threatening so it is important that the person with a concussion be watched by others.  signs to watch for are:

  • Headache that appears to be getting worse
  • Continuing to vomit
  • Increased drowsiness or dizziness
  • Increased confusion

If symptoms appear to get worse, go to an emergency room.

During the first week or until symptoms diminish, doctors recommend rest. If symptoms persist beyond a week and especially beyond three weeks, it is wise to seek consultation from a physician or specialized concussion clinic.

Start with the primary care physician. Discuss if specialized services are advised. There may be concussion clinics in the area that will not need a primary care physician referral.

Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder in which a combination of post-concussion symptoms — such as headaches and dizziness — last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion.

Concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury, usually occurring after a blow to the head. Loss of consciousness isn’t required for a diagnosis of concussion or post-concussion syndrome. In fact, the risk of post-concussion syndrome doesn’t appear to be associated with the severity of the initial injury.

In most people, post-concussion syndrome symptoms occur within the first seven to 10 days and go away within three months, though they can persist for a year or more. Post-concussion syndrome treatments are aimed at easing specific symptoms.

Some experts believe post-concussion symptoms are caused by structural damage to the brain or disruption of neurotransmitter systems, resulting from the impact that caused the concussion. Others believe it is related to psychological factors, especially since the most common symptoms — headache, dizziness and sleep problems — are similar to those often experienced by people diagnosed with depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. In many cases, both physiological effects of brain trauma and emotional reactions to these effects play a role in the development of symptoms.

Researchers haven’t determined why some people who’ve had concussions develop persistent post-concussion symptoms while others do not. There has been no proven correlation between the severity of the injury and the likelihood of developing persistent post-concussion symptoms.