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Signs and Symptoms

The effects of a concussion may clear up quickly for those injured, but when they don’t, symptoms appear and usually fall into four categories:

Cognitive

  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering new information

Emotional/Mood

  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • More emotional
  • Nervousness or anxiety

Physical

  • Headache
  • Fuzzy or blurry vision
  • Nausea or vomiting (early on)
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Balance problems

Sleep

  • Sleeping more than usual

Some of these symptoms may appear right away, while others may not be noticed for days or months after the injury, or until the person starts resuming their everyday life and more demands are placed upon them. Sometimes, people do not recognize or admit that they are having problems. Others may not understand why they are having problems and what their problems really are, which can make them nervous and upset.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be difficult to sort out. Early on, problems may be missed by the person with the concussion, family members, or doctors. People may appear healthy, even though they are acting or feeling differently.

Danger Signs in Children

Take your child to the emergency department right away if they received a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body, and demonstrate any of the following symptoms:

  • Headache that gets worse and does not go away
  • Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Look very drowsy or cannot be awakened
  • One pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Cannot recognize people or places
  • Increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
  • Unusual behavior
  • Loss of consciousness (a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously and the person should be carefully monitored)
  • Will not stop crying and cannot be consoled
  • Will not nurse or eat
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