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Do I Have a Concussion?

Head injuries are incredibly common, especially if you or your child play contact sports. From wiping out on a bike to getting hit in the head while boxing, many scenarios could leave you dealing with a concussion. But how do you know if you have a concussion? And if you do have a concussion, what should you do about it? Your general doctor should be the first doctor you call when you are dealing with most injuries or health problems that have you concerned.

Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that occurs when someone experiences a blow to the head from an injury or accident. Since some concussions can be mild, you may not be able to recognize symptoms all the time. It’s important to identify possible concussion symptoms early and to take the appropriate steps to prevent complications. Warning signs of a concussion include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Headache
  • Disorientation
  • Suddenly sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

Most people assume that if they didn’t lose consciousness that they don’t have a concussion, but that’s not true. You do not need to lose consciousness to have a concussion. While symptoms do often appear not long after the injury, symptoms can appear over several hours or the next day or two after the accident.

Do I need to see a doctor for my concussion?

If symptoms are mild and you’re able to recognize that you might have a concussion then you may not need to see a doctor unless your symptoms persist or get worse. Of course, if you have any concerns about the symptoms you are experiencing, do not hesitate to contact your general doctor right away to see if you should head to the ER or into their practice for a checkup. Since more severe concussions put a person at risk for bleeding in the brain, it’s always best to play it safe and call your doctor immediately if you have any concerns.

How is a concussion treated?

There aren’t any medications that can be used to heal your brain, but there are simple strategies you can do to speed up your recovery. These steps include:

  • Get lots of rest
  • Avoid anything that stimulates the brain
  • Avoid bright lights and sounds
  • Avoid high mental concentration activities such as texting or reading for at least the first 48 hours after the injury
  • Take time off work
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol
  • Avoid physical activity
  • Drink plenty of water every day

While the majority of patients start to feel better after 7-10 days, symptoms can persist for up to three months or longer.

Worried that you or your child may have a concussion? If so, it’s time to call your general doctor right away to find out the next steps you should talk. You mustn’t ignore a head injury. In some cases, your doctor may be able to determine over the phone whether you need to go directly to the ER for care.

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