Home Neurology A First Aid Guide to a Concussion: Always Be Prepared

A First Aid Guide to a Concussion: Always Be Prepared

A concussion is a head injury that affects the functioning of the brain. Concussions are mostly temporary, but their after-effects can last for a long time—however, most of the people who suffer a concussion recover well.     

What are the symptoms of a concussion?

Symptoms show up only a few hours or days post-injury. The symptoms can be mild or intense and can last for days or weeks. Here are some signs of a concussion:

●          Amnesia or memory loss, resulting in forgetting the event that caused the concussion.

●          Headaches

●          Nausea and vomiting

●          Ringing in the ears

●          Fatigue and dizziness

●          Blurry vision

●          The feeling of disorientation and confusion

●          Speech delay     

●          Loss of consciousness ( happens rarely)

●          Irritability and other changes in personality

●          Disturbed sleep

●          Forgetting things

●          Light or noise sensitivity

●          Lightheadedness

How long do the symptoms last?

If it is a first-grade concussion or a second-grade concussion, it will take a few minutes, hours, or days to wear off. In rare cases, the symptoms of the first two grades may stay for a couple of weeks . For all grades of concussion , the patient requires medical attention.

What is the first aid response to a concussion?

Here are some ways to provide first aid to someone who has suffered a concussion:

  • Assume there will be a concussion: When anyone sustains a head injury always assume it may lead to a concussion. This will keep you in the right state of mind to handle the situation.
  • Get the person to a safe place: It doesn’t matter where the incident took place. The first move is to get the person to a safe place.
  • Get medical help: Seek medical help. Immediate medical attention is a must if you notice severe symptoms.
  • Make sure the person is breathing and that they are not having any trouble breathing.
  • They might act normal: After a head injury, the person may act normal as if nothing happened; but remember that any head injury can lead to a concussion.
  • Do not let the victim drink alcohol.
  • Observe the patient after the injury as symptoms may show up late.

How to handle a concussion before medical help shows up?

  • Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. You can use any cold packaged food or ice.
  • Do not give the victim take an aspirin or ibuprofen as it can cause bleeding.
  • If there is a cut and bleeding, then apply pressure using a clean cloth to make a clot form and for the bleeding to slow down.

When should you see a doctor?

Concussions can happen in both adults and children. It is essential to know when to see a doctor. Usually, after a concussion, the person affected wants to sleep. It is okay unless you notice any severe signs.

In case your child has experienced a serious head injury, you must go to a doctor at the earliest, as they can monitor the situation better. Here are some signs that should let you know whether you should take the concussed person to a doctor immediately :

●          Loss of consciousness for more than 30 seconds

●          Intense headache that worsens with time

●          Bleeding or fluid from the nose or ears

●          Constant ringing in the ears

●          Blurry       vision

●          Disorientation and confusion

These are sure signs of a concussion. If you notice these in a person, it means that the injury has affected brain function, and a concussion has likely occurred. In this situation, visit the ER or emergency care immediately as it could get worse.

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What are the causes of a concussion?

Our brain is a sensitive organ with the consistency of gelatin or jelly. Cerebrospinal fluid is what protects the brain from bumps and jolts  that we may experience in our everyday lives.       Injury to the head or the neck, in the form of a decisive blow, a fall, or a violent shake,      affect brain function, causing a concussion.

A brain injury can result in bleeding, which can be fatal. Therefore, it is important to monitor a person with a concussion, to make sure things do not worsen.

What are the types of concussions?

Concussions have grades depending on their severity. There are three grades of concussions:

First grade: This is when the symptoms are mild and only last for 15 minutes or less , with no loss of consciousness. The victim is awake but just dazed and confused as to what happened.

Second grade: This is when the symptoms last longer than 15 minutes. This grade also does not involve loss of consciousness.

Third grade: This is the most severe type  of concussion. It happens when a person does lose consciousness. It often results in an amnesia episode where the patient does not remember anything before the incident .

What are the risk factors?

Here is a list of activities that can lead to a greater chance of developing a concussion:

●Recent fall from the height or head injury especially in elders or young children    

●Experiencing an injury while playing high-risk sports such as football, boxing, rugby, etc.

●Playing a sport without the right safety equipment

●Experiencing physical abuse or involved in a fight

●If you were in a car crash or motorbike accident

●Being a soldier and have been in a combat

● Past medical history significant for concussion

Who is at greater risk of developing complications due to a concussion?

  • People over the age of 65
  • History of hemophilia (a condition that increases bleeding due to injuries)
  • History of thrombophilia (a condition where blood clots very quickly)
  • People who are on medications to avoid blood clots
  • History of medical intervention including brain surgery

What can be some complications that follow?

A concussion can lead to various complications like:

  • Post-concussion syndrome: If concussion symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness, lasts for over three months    
  • Post-traumatic headaches: If you experience headaches caused by the concussion, even after seven days
  • Post-traumatic vertigo: If you continue experiencing dizziness and spinning for days, weeks, and months post-injury, it can be post-traumatic vertigo.
  • Second impact syndrome: If you experience a second concussion before the first concussion effects have not resolved, you may experience a brain swelling  that could be fatal. For avoiding this, athletes are advised to stay away from sports after experiencing a concussion.

What are some measures you can take to prevent a concussion?

Some preventive measures include:

  • Wearing helmets while playing sports
  • Wear protective equipment while driving or riding a bike. Wear a helmet and always use a seatbelt.
  • Keep an eye on small children to make sure they do not fall from a height or slip and fall.
  • Make sure your home does not have any falling hazards, such as loose stairs.

Conclusion

A concussion, if not treated on time, may cause permanent severe effects. It is not a life-threatening situation, but it can cause several difficulties for the victim later on in life. To prevent this people need to be aware of concussion and its preventive measures.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1.         Can a concussion be noticed right away?

In most cases, when there is a concussion, the symptoms show up right away. But, in some cases, the symptoms take some time to show up. The patient needs to be monitored for a few hours after the accident.

2.         What to do if you notice someone has a concussion?

Ask them to stay still and talk to you about how they are feeling. Call medical services immediately. Ask the patient not to move much. Make sure they do not make  any sudden movements.

3.         Should patients with concussion drive?

No, a concussion affects hand-eye coordination, which makes it unsafe for them to drive. Patients should only be allowed to go after the symptoms resolve  and go by the doctor’s advice on driving.

4.         Are emotional changes the side effect of a concussion?

Yes, some people do experience a change in their emotions after they have suffered a concussion. The emotions seen can be stress, depression or anxiety. It is best to keep a victim of concussion away from stressful situations.

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