What you need to know about concussions

Knowing the signs of a concussion is important for everyone regardless of whether or not they are involved in contact sports.  Accidents can happen in any sport or setting, so knowing the signs and symptoms is extremely important.

We can thank Sidney Crosby and many other professional athletes  for raising awareness about the dangers of concussions in sports, but concussions aren’t just limited to athletes.  All it takes is a fall or even a seemingly harmless bump of the head to cause a concussion and the results prove catastrophic.

What Is A Concussion?
Concussions are quite common in the general population and amongst those involved in contact sports. A concussion is a brain injury that changes the way your brain functions and the extent of injury to the brain can vary depending on different factors, such as how the injury happened as well as the age and overall health of the person. A blow to the head, neck, or upper body or accelerated movement with or without physical impact that comes from being shaken violently, a car accident, or other strong force or trauma can cause your brain to slide forcefully against the skull, leading to injury. Depending on the extent of injury to the brain, a concussion can cause mild symptoms or can even be fatal.

The Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
The most important thing to know about the symptoms of a concussion is that they can sometimes be quite subtle or not be apparent right away.

The most common symptoms of a concussion are:

  • Headache or a sensation of pressure in the head
  • Confusion or feeling “foggy”
  • Temporary loss of consciousness or blacking out
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Amnesia surrounding the event or injury
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Slurring while speaking

A person who has suffered a concussion may also complain of the following symptoms shortly after the injury or in the days following:

  • Problems concentrating or with memory
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Sensitivity to noise and light
  • Issues with smell and taste
  • Sleep issues

Children and Concussions
Kids are always bumping their heads and taking tumbles so their risk of concussions is higher and because of the inability to communicate how they feel depending on their age, it’s important to recognize the following signs of concussions in infants, toddlers, and children:

  • Tiredness
  • Irritability and being cranky
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Changes in appetite
  • Problems with balance when walking or standing
  • Loss of interest in their favourite activities and toys

What to Do if You Suspect a Concussion or other Brain Injury
It’s recommended that you seek emergency care immediately anytime a brain injury is suspected. Even if the trauma to the head didn’t seem very serious or severe, seek emergency care anytime a person experiences the following symptoms:

  • A loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Obvious impairment to the way they move and function
  • Any symptoms that seem to be worsening over time

Most of the time, a fall or head bump is nothing to worry about, but remembering this information could mean the difference between life and death in the few instances when it is serious.

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