By: Dr. Ahmad Elakil

Insight Hospital and Medical Center Chicago – Each year, millions of people in the United States visit the emergency room to receive treatment for brain concussions. Although most people who experience a concussion recover fully with few complications, it is important to remember that every head injury is a serious health issue that should not be ignored. According to data from a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine report, five in ten concussions go unreported or undetected. 

If you suspect you or someone you know has experienced a head injury recently, the following is a brief overview on recognizing brain concussions. I will explain how a concussion is defined, signs and symptoms to watch for, and how to schedule a same day appointment at Insight if you think you have experienced a concussion or head injury. 

What Is a Concussion?
A concussion is a common type of head injury. It occurs when someone experiences a severe bump, jolt, or blow to the head. It can also occur when a person is hit or falls in a way that causes their brain to move back and forth inside the skull. 

The sudden movement that occurs during these kinds of events causes the brain to bounce or twist. As a result, chemical changes occur in the brain and the brain cells can also become damaged or stretched in some cases. 

The following are some of the most common causes of concussions:

  • Slips and falls
  • Blows to the head
  • Car accidents
  • Contact during sports (football, soccer, hockey, wrestling, etc.)

Certain people are also more likely to experience concussions than others. Elderly individuals, as well as children younger than four years of age, are more prone to concussions due to an increased risk of falling and hitting their heads. Children who are involved in sports also face a higher risk. The same is true of military personnel who are exposed to explosive devices.
Anyone who has had a concussion in the past is also more likely to experience one than someone who has never had this type of brain injury before.

Concussion Signs and Symptoms
It’s not always easy to tell if someone has experienced a concussion. Some people present severe symptoms right away, while others present symptoms that are so mild they brush them off and don’t seek further treatment. 

Knowing what to look for can help you avoid making this mistake. Here are some common signs and symptoms of concussions to be aware of:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Confusion
  • Short-term loss of consciousness
  • Trouble maintaining balance
  • Double vision or blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sensitivity to light and/or sound
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in sleep quality/quantity
  • Difficulty focusing or understanding 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings

For infants and toddlers, concussions often go undiagnosed because young children can’t easily communicate how they’re feeling. Some signs that parents and caregivers should watch for include the following: 

  • Bumps on the head
  • Vomiting 
  • Irritability
  • Refusal to eat or nurse
  • Changes in sleep patterns 
  • Increased fussiness 
  • Blank stares 

Concussion symptoms usually appear within minutes of an injury taking place. However, in some cases several hours can pass before they are evident. Symptoms can also change over time and new symptoms might develop if the brain undergoes too much stress too soon after the incident. 

Are You Experiencing Concussion Symptoms?
If you think you are experiencing concussion symptoms, it is important to consult an expert immediately. Any level of concussion can be a severe health issue requiring care by a healthcare professional specializing in concussion treatment. To request an appointment with Dr. Ahmad Elakil or to learn more about the services offered at Insight Hospital & Medical Center in Chicago, please call (312) 567-2273 or click here to find out about same day appointments.