The Dangers of Untreated Concussions

Have you ever bumped your head and felt a bit dazed or confused? That could be a concussion, a temporary glitch in your brain. It might seem like a minor inconvenience, but a concussion is more than just seeing stars. A bump or blow to the head, or even a forceful blow to the body, can cause your brain to bounce around inside your skull. Why is this a big deal? This sudden movement disrupts the delicate connections between your brain cells, affecting how they normally function. 

While concussions are often classified as minor traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), ignoring them can lead to serious health problems down the road.

Warning Signs You Can’t Ignore

Concussions are tricky injuries. Unlike a broken bone, the effects aren’t always immediately obvious. Symptoms can take days or weeks to appear, making them easy to miss. Here’s what to watch out for:

  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Sensitivity to light and noise 
  • Blurred vision or seeing double
  • Nausea 
  • Mood swings, irritability, and even depression 
  • Memory lapses

Here are some alarming physical symptoms of concussions you can’t ignore:

  • Vomiting that won’t stop
  • Seizure or convulsions
  • Dizziness, vertigo, and balance problems 
  • Slurring or difficulty speaking
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Delayed responses or feeling dazed
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in arms or leg
  • Unequal pupil dilation
  • Drainage of clear fluid from the nose or ears

If you suspect or are unsure if you have a concussion, err on the side of caution and seek immediate medical attention. Don’t wait for symptoms to worsen.  

Common Causes of Concussions

Concussions can happen from a variety of events, including:

  • High-risk contact sports
  • Falls, car crashes, and other accidents can cause jolts to the head.
  • Activities like skateboarding, cycling, and horseback riding

Who’s Most at Risk for a Concussion?

While anyone can experience a concussion, certain groups have a higher risk:

  • Young children (under 4) and older adults - They are more susceptible to falls, a leading cause of concussions. Their developing or weakening head and neck muscles may offer less protection during an impact.
  • Athletes - Contact sports like football, hockey, and soccer put athletes at significant risk due to collisions and falls.
  • High-Risk Professionals - Construction workers and others in high-risk professions
  • Military Personnel - The nature of military service exposes personnel to explosions, falls, and other potential head trauma.
  • Car Accident Victims - The force of a car accident can cause the brain to hit the skull, even with airbags and seatbelts.

The Hidden Danger and Long-Term Effects of Untreated Concussion

While seeking medical attention after a head injury is always crucial, some people might brush off a suspected concussion, especially if symptoms aren’t immediate or severe. Untreated concussions can be fatal and lead to long-term complications such as post-concussion syndrome and difficulty concentrating for weeks or even months.

Cognitive Challenges 

These cognitive challenges can also manifest as trouble focusing, memory lapses, and struggling with reading or writing, potentially impacting academic or work performance. 

Negative Effect on Mental Health

Furthermore, concussions can take a toll on mental health, causing frequent mood swings, irritability, and frustration during recovery. It can also increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and violent behaviours.

Strained Relationships

Emotional changes can strain relationships and stress, which is already a difficult healing process. 

Blood Clots

In rare cases, the most serious risk of neglecting a concussion is the possibility of developing blood clots or bleeding in the brain. If left untreated, it can be fatal and cause death. For these reasons, seeking medical attention after a head injury is crucial to ensure proper recovery and minimize the risk of long-term complications.

Second Impact Syndrome

While unlikely, multiple concussions can lead to a condition called Second Impact Syndrome, which can be life-threatening.

How Long Do Concussions Last?

The effects of a concussion can vary depending on its severity. Some people might recover within a few days, while others might experience symptoms like headaches, dizziness, or trouble concentrating for weeks or months. 

How Concussions are Treated

While there’s no magic cure for a concussion, effective remedies and concussion management can significantly reduce recovery time and minimize long-term effects.

Effective concussion management focuses on giving your brain the time and supports it needs to heal. Your doctor will determine when to take a break from strenuous activities, work, or school.  

In some cases, your healthcare practitioner may prescribe medications to manage headaches, nausea, or sleep disturbances that can be common symptoms of a concussion. Once your symptoms improve, a gradual return to activities under medical guidance is crucial.

Preventing Concussions

While preventing a concussion altogether is ideal, the real key to avoiding long-term problems lies in early and proper medical attention.  Even if symptoms seem mild and you think you can tough it out, getting a medical evaluation within one to two days of a head injury is crucial

Here’s what you can do to prevent falls and other accidents that might lead to a concussion:

  • Always buckle up for car safety
  • Use the right helmet when biking, playing sports, or other high-risk activities.
  • Remove clutter and trip hazards from walkways throughout your home.
  • Use handrails on stairs, and install safety gates for young children at the top and bottom of staircases.
  • Improve lighting throughout your home to reduce the risk of tripping over unseen obstacles.
  • Add grab bars and non-slip mats in the bathroom to prevent slips and falls.
  • Strengthening your neck muscles can help stabilize your head during a fall, potentially lessening the impact on your brain.

Early Intervention for Athletes

Baseline testing is a pre-season assessment done by a healthcare professional to establish an athlete’s baseline cognitive function, balance, strength, and reaction time. This information is crucial for diagnosing concussions because doctors can compare an athlete’s post-injury test results to their baseline results. This comparison helps determine the severity of the concussion and guides decisions about when the athlete can safely return to play. 

Baseline testing is recommended to be repeated annually and more frequently if an athlete has a history of concussions.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help with Concussions

While conventional medicine plays a crucial role in concussion diagnosis, treatment, and management, some people seek additional support. Chiropractic care can complement concussion recovery by addressing musculoskeletal issues and promoting better communication between the brain and body. 

Adjustments aim to improve spinal alignment and mobility, potentially reducing headaches and neck pain. In addition, chiropractic care may incorporate exercises and techniques to improve balance and coordination, which can be affected by concussions and contribute to a better sense of well-being during recovery.

Chiropractic care should not replace conventional medical treatment for concussions. If you’re considering this approach, discuss it with your doctor and choose a qualified chiropractor.

Contact Chiro-Med for chiropractic care as a complementary approach to concussions. 

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