Concussion Signs and Symptoms

Have you heard about sports concussions or concussion injuries and wondered what that really means? It's as simple as bumping your head while playing and not quite feeling OK after that, or it can happen from car crashes and other accidents. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of a concussion and when it’s time to see a doctor. 

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion?

Concussions can cause many symptoms, some of them seemingly insignificant. If you’ve taken a blow to the head or if you’ve had a fall, see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Balance problems
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling mentally foggy
  • Feeling slowed down or just “not right”
  • Feeling sluggish or fatigued
  • Headache, pressure in head
  • Irritability
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Loss of memory of events before or after head trauma
  • More emotional, nervousness or sadness than usual
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Nervousness
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Seizures
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vision changes, double vision, blurred vision

Categories of Concussion Symptoms

There are six categories of concussion symptoms: cognitive/fatigue, vestibular, ocular, post-traumatic migraine, cervical and anxiety/mood. If you are experiencing these symptoms after a concussion in sports or in general, call your doctor immediately.

Cognitive/Fatigue

Some symptoms you may experience can include difficulty thinking clearly, feeling slowed down, difficulty concentrating and difficulty remembering new information.

Vestibular

The vestibular system is the balance center of the brain. Symptoms may include the inability to interpret motion or difficulty stabilizing vision upon head movement.

Ocular

You may experience difficulties bringing your eyes together or tracking motion.

Post-Traumatic Migraine

Symptoms include headache, nausea and sensitivity to light or noise.

Cervical

If a concussive blow affects the extra-cranial region, including the neck and/or spinal cord, you may experience ongoing headaches.

Anxiety/Mood

Symptoms associated with anxiety/mood may include ruminating thoughts or excessive worry.

How Long Do Concussion Symptoms Last?

Concussion symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to months depending on how severe the concussion was.

When to See a Doctor

It’s important to be aware of these symptoms and know when it’s time to see a doctor. Learn more about when adults and kids should seek medical attention.

Kids

Kids need to know that they shouldn’t be afraid to tell someone if they bump their head and don’t feel well, and that it’s OK to stop playing. They should also know that if it’s a teammate who is injured, they shouldn’t put pressure on him or her to return to a game. Concussions should be taken seriously.

Tell your kids that if they experience any these things, tell an adult:

  • Your head hurts or you feel lots of pressure
  • You feel like throwing up (vomiting)
  • You’re feeling dizzy or woozy and can’t walk straight
  • You can’t see properly and things are looking fuzzy
  • The sun or any light feels too bright and you want to close your eyes
  • Any noise is bugging you too much
  • You feel very tired and can’t focus or feel confused
  • You can’t seem to remember things
  • Something does not “feel right” or you are “feeling down”

Playing while it still hurts does not mean you're being strong or brave. It’s OK to just say “No, I’m not feeling right.” Kids may feel sad and upset at not being able to play, but let them know: How you feel is more important than finishing the game. It’s OK to walk away, get better and then return on the field.

Adults

It is important to be aware if you have had a concussion as it could lead to more serious conditions. Along with the typical concussion symptoms, seek medical help if you’re experiencing:

  • Headache that does not go away
  • Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • One pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) is larger than the other
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Trouble recognizing people or places
  • Confusion, restlessness or agitation
  • Unusual behavior
  • Loss of consciousness

Make sure to get immediate medical help if you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms. The team at Banner Health is here to help.