Concussion is a temporary injury to the brain caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head. For most people, a concussion is a minor event that has no lasting side effects. However, in some cases the effects can last several weeks or longer.
The first two weeks:
It will probably take a couple of weeks before you feel you are completely ‘back to normal’. You may experience the following symptoms during this time
- Tiredness. Your brain will seem to have less energy. After even a little effort, you may feel exhausted. It is best to rest when you feel like this.
- Poor concentration. You may feel less able to concentrate. If there’s something you must do, start when you have rested and are feeling refreshed. Stop as soon as your attention begins to fade.
- Forgetting things. You may become forgetful. A concussion can affect your memory. Do not be alarmed, as it will get better. Make a note of important things you want to remember.
- Irritability. You may get annoyed or lose your temper more easily. Don’t be alarmed. This is a result of your head injury. Try to notice when it starts to happen, and turn away, go out of the room and take time out. Find ways to relax, and use up your aggression by taking exercise.
- Noise sensitivity. Putting up with noise needs brain energy, and people find it difficult after they have been concussed. Children playing, a loud radio, or machinery at work may be unbearable. The only remedy is to avoid the noise.
- Dizziness and nausea. You may experience a feeling of unreality or floating, similar to dizziness. This is because a concussion sometimes upsets the balance organs in the ears. You may also notice that a sudden movement of your head can give you vertigo, so that the world seems to spin round and make you feel dizzy. These symptoms will settle with time.
- Clumsiness. You may find that you bump into people in the street, or drop things. This is because your brain is reacting more slowly than usual. Avoid situations that might be dangerous, and take special care when crossing the street. Do not drive until fully recovered.
- Eye problems. You may find that bright light bothers you and that it helps to wear sunglasses, even indoors. Sight is sometimes a little blurred, either because the eyes are not focusing well, or because they are not lining up correctly. These symptoms should settle – see an optician if things don’t improve.
- Headaches. You will probably suffer from headaches. In the early stages, because of the bruising from the injury. Later the headaches are often due to tiredness or stress. Headache pills may not be effective. Take plenty of rest. If the headaches are severe and do not go away, you should see your doctor.
For about one person in ten, the symptoms of a head injury last longer than two weeks. If your symptoms have lasted for more than two or three weeks, or are particularly severe, you should see your GP.