Around 1.6-3.8 million concussions occur every year in the United States, but not everybody seeks treatment for their head injuries. No matter how mild an injury seems, you should never overlook any accident concussions, as a long-term head wound could become disastrous.
Whether you’ve been in a car accident or bumped your head, there’s a right and wrong way to deal with a concussion. This article will advise you on how to get the help you need.
When to Seek Help: Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
Several telltale symptoms indicate you likely have a concussion. If you have any severe concussion signs after an accident, like nausea, dilated pupils, amnesia, worsening headache, or difficulty waking from sleep, you should head to the emergency room immediately.
However, even mild symphonies like a dazed appearance, confusion, forgetfulness, or brain fog could indicate something is very wrong. It’s common for more concerning problems to arise within the first 24-48 hours of a head injury, so don’t think your injury isn’t serious.
Should I Always Go to the Doctor After a Head Injury?
Since concussions have a wide range of symptoms, it’s important to rule it out if possible. Even falling off a stationary pedal bike could cause a concussion or internal bleeding.
How Do Doctors Assess a Concussion?
Doctors will perform a series of non-invasive tests that assess your reaction time, balance, and memory. They may also perform neurocognitive tests, a cervical spine exam, and eye movement and function tests. If you have a concussion, you’ll receive a care package.
Your doctor will put you in the following three grades of concussion severity:
Grade 1, Mild: No loss of consciousness. Symptoms last for under 15 minutes
Grade 2, Moderate: No loss of consciousness. Symptoms last longer than 15 minutes
Grade 3, Severe: Loss of consciousness.
If you have a severe or “complex” concussion, it’s recommended that you have a friend or family member watch over you. You’ll need someone to wake you up once every hour.
How to Take Care of A Concussion
Start the healing process as soon as possible by booking time off work. Your doctor will give you a note explaining that you won’t be able to work for 1-3 weeks, depending on severity.
Since you’ve likely had headaches in the past, be sure to avoid anything that would make it worse. For example, if bright lights bother you, draw the curtains and shut off the lights. If you have to go out, wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses.
Get Some Sleep
Your body heals when you’re asleep, but you need to be careful here. Severe concussions could make it difficult for you to wake up, even with an alarm. Take short, 30-minute naps throughout the day and ask a friend or family member to wake you up.
Avoid Physical/Mental Activities
An increased heart rate will make your symptoms worse, but light exercise, like walking, could speed up your recovery. Ask your doctor if you can perform these tasks. However, it’s unlikely they’ll give you the go-ahead to read, watch TV or play video games until you’re better.
Don’t Drive too Soon
Since your reaction time will be slowed, don’t drive your car until your doctor says you can. This could range from 24 hours to a week. Take public transit or walk when you need to run errands.
Be Cautious With Pain Medicine
Naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) could increase your risk of breathing. They may also make it more difficult for you to wake up, or they may mask your symptoms. If you’re in pain, speak to your doctor about your options for relief.