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How to tell if you have a concussion

Concussions happen quite frequently which may leave you wondering if they’re really a big deal. The answer is a resounding yes!

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI)—and every injury to the brain is significant. Brain injuries can have a long-lasting impact on your life. So, it’s important to see a specialist if you suffer a blow to the head, a fall, whiplash or notice symptoms of a head injury.

Concussion symptoms

Signs and symptoms of a concussion usually happen right away, but they can show up hours or days after the injury. Not everyone with a concussion needs to be taken to the emergency room, but they should still be seen by a healthcare provider.

Symptoms include:

  • Balance problems or lack of coordination
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Difficulty at work or school
  • Feeling more emotional
  • Headache
  • Irritability, sadness or nervousness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Mental fogginess or confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Personality changes
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble remembering or concentrating

When to go to the ER for concussion

It’s critical to call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department if you have any of these symptoms following a head injury:

  • Confusion or irritability that gets worse
  • Irregular heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, etc.
  • Headache that gets worse
  • Memory loss
  • Passing out or not responding to you
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Suspected spine injury, skull fracture or bleeding

Don’t take any chances with a head injury

Gundersen has specialists on staff who are trained in evaluating and treating concussion in children and adults—as well as determining when it’s safe for athletes to return to activity.

Most concussions heal within a few days or weeks. The key to recovery is rest, limiting demanding activities, avoiding alcohol and avoiding activities that could lead to another blow to the head.

If you’re still having symptoms of a concussion after three weeks, Gundersen’s Traumatic Brain Injury Team is here to help adults. Children should be evaluated by a pediatric neurologist.

1900 South Ave.
La Crosse, WI 54601

(608) 782-7300

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