How Much Head Trauma Causes a Concussion?

If you or someone you know has recently experienced a blow to the head, it's wise to check for symptoms of concussion and consult a medical expert just to be on the safe side. However, many of us do occasionally hit our heads without any serious consequences - so how do we know when it's time to get down to the emergency room?

What is a concussion?

A concussion, in more technical terms, is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can result in a temporarily altered mental state - some have described it as a "short-lived loss of mental function". It can also result in the sufferer becoming unconscious.

Concussions are not usually so serious that they become life-threatening, however they can lead to serious symptoms (including bleeding in or around the brain) that may require medical treatment by a professional. Bleeding in the brain can sometimes be fatal, which is why it is vital for anyone who experiences a concussion to be monitored in the immediate hours after their head trauma, and to have access to emergency care if their symptoms get worse.

What are the common symptoms of concussion?

Although only a trained medical professional should ever diagnose a concussion, some of the most common signs of a concussion include:

  • Losing consciousness after a head trauma
  • Memory loss
  • Blurred vision or seeing stars
  • General confusion, a delay in responding to questions, or a blank expression

These symptoms can vary from person to person, and you may find they do not develop for hours, days or even weeks after the event of a head trauma.

What causes a concussion?

Our brains have a similar consistency to gelatin, but luckily we have thick skulls and protective cerebrospinal fluid inside to cushion them from bumps and bashes.

However, a more violent head trauma to a person's head, neck or upper body can cause their brain to slide back and forth against the inside of their skull.

Usual causes of concussion include whiplash (such as the kind you'd expect from being in a car accident) or a violent blow to the head (perhaps from a fall or being hit with a heavy, blunt object).

Warning signs to look out for

We recommend visiting your nearest hospital if you or anyone you know experiences any of these symptoms after a head trauma:

  • Losing consciousness, even if only briefly
  • Memory loss - not being able to recall events directly before the head trauma
  • Persistent pains or headaches after the trauma
  • Blurred or double vision (some people may also "see stars")
  • Behavioral changes, including being easily distracted, irritability, or a loss of interest in things going on around you
  • Drowsiness for no apparent reason
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty walking in a straight line, or loss of balance
  • Problems understanding what people are saying
  • Difficulty talking, including slurred speech
  • Difficulties with reading or writing
  • Weakness in part of the body (such as a weak arm or leg)
  • Clear fluid coming from your nose or ears
  • Inexplicable deafness in either one or both of your ears
  • A visible head or face wound

If you or someone you know has experienced a trauma to the head whilst drunk or on recreational drugs, they should be taken to A&E immediately as it can be harder for others to spot the signs of a concussion or serious head injury.

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