7 Concussion Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Anyone with a concussion should be checked by a health care professional if at all possible. If you’re the one with the injury, don’t rely solely on your own assessment for signs you’re getting worse and need reevaluation.
Trouble staying alert
If the victim is not attentive and fully oriented within at least 30 minutes after the trauma, that’s a big concern. However, the Mayo Clinic explains that some concussion symptoms may not show up immediately. Monitor the victim for signs of confusion, amnesia around the traumatic event, and delayed responses to questions.
Bleeding from the ear
If you’re not sure that there’s been a direct injury to the ear, get evaluated: Blood dripping from an ear could signal a serious skull fracture that has damaged a blood vessel or even the lining around the brain. Make sure you don’t fall for these common concussion myths that you assume are true.
Loss of consciousness
While a loss of consciousness is not necessarily a symptom of every concussion victim, it is a concern. An episode that lasts more than a couple of minutes is especially worrisome. Seek medical attention right away if the victim does not wake up.
Diffuse (all-over) headache
Does the pain extend beyond the area of the injury? Severe pain that is deep and spreads throughout the head, that does not respond to something like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or get better with time, could be a sign of serious damage. Until the victim has been thoroughly checked by an expert, she should avoid certain medications. Aspirin, for example, can increase the risk of internal bleeding. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen also might slightly increase the risk. If the victim takes a narcotic, you won’t know if it’s the medicine or the trauma causing a change in her mental status and pupils. Wait for the doctor to tell you these drugs are safe to take. Don’t miss these signs your headache is something way worse.
Irregular pupil dilation
If your pupils are normal, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a serious head injury. But if they’re clearly unequal or don’t constrict equally to light, that could be a sign of expanding pressure on the brain, and this condition requires immediate attention. Just try to make sure the pupil wasn’t already like that before the injury—perhaps because of a prior problem or even because one of the eyes is artificial. Yes, I’ve seen it happen.
Fluid flowing from the nostrils or ears, especially if it’s clear, could be from a tear in the lining around the brain that holds in the cerebrospinal fluid.
A seizure after head trauma can be a sign that there’s been a serious brain injury, but it may not occur immediately after the trauma. Look out for these other signs you need to go to the ER after a head injury.
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