Most people have heard the word “concussion” and correctly associate it with head trauma. However, many people aren’t so sure what exactly happens when you get a concussion or how bad concussions can be.

A concussion, medically defined, is a traumatic brain injury (TBI), caused by a bump, blow, or knock to the head. Concussions often occur during contact sports, such as football and rugby. You can get a concussion if you fall and hit your head, if you get hit in the head with an object — such as a ball — or if you get punched or hit.

When these sorts of blows occur, your brain rapidly moves back and forth inside your skull, which can cause chemical changes or damage to brain cells. In this blog, Kimberley Shine, MD, of Shine Health and Wellness in Pasadena, California, explains what you should do in the first 24 hours and beyond if you receive a blow to the head.

What to do if you have a concussion

Even if your doctor diagnoses your concussion as mild, it’s important to know that the effects of any concussion can be long-lasting and serious. Thus, it’s important to take precautions and avoid activities that can worsen your concussion.

In the first 24 hours after sustaining a concussion, you should:

  • Rest, first and foremost
  • Make sure to get good sleep
  • Designate someone to check in on you regularly
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Avoid screen time
  • Avoid loud noises, bright lights, and other highly stimulating environments
  • Take a break from work, school, or other mentally intense activities
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Stay hydrated

In these first several hours, you should have a caretaker look out for danger signs, including abnormal pupils, vomiting, inability to wake up, slurred speech, severe dizziness, or decreased coordination.

As the days go by, your symptoms should start to alleviate. Still, you should be cautious and intentional about how you add activities back into your day. Continue to prioritize rest, hydration, and healthy eating. Avoid screens, bright lights, and loud noises as much as possible.

Furthermore, wait longer than you think you need to wait to restart sports and physical activities. Jostling your brain around before your concussion fully heals can reinjure you and worsen your symptoms.

Treating concussions

If your symptoms don’t improve with the above steps, you may have a severe concussion that needs ongoing professional treatment. Most concussions heal without major medical treatment, but your doctor may wish to take additional imaging or scans in order to provide the right kind of care.

Sometimes, doctors recommend special therapies based on the type of symptoms produced by a severe concussion. For example, your doctor may recommend balance rehabilitation if your concussion is causing balance issues. Likewise, if you have trouble speaking or thinking, your doctor may recommend cognitive therapy.

If you’ve received trauma to the head, we can help get you on the path to health. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Shine Health and Wellness today.

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