Concussion: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is a brain injury that happens after you sustain an impact to the head. It can be the result of a blow, hit or jolt, and it may include loss of consciousness.

You can classify concussion into a TBI (traumatic brain injury) while its severity can be divided into three different concussion grades (x):

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe

The severity may depend on how hard you hit your head. However, it varies from one case to another. Hitting your head twice is known as the second hit syndrome, and it involves sustaining a head injury while you are still experiencing post-concussion symptoms (x).

Concussions can sometimes lead to brain swelling, which can be a life-threatening condition. A swelling or cerebral edema definition refers to any swelling that is caused by the fluid trapped inside the brain (x).

You may experience both short-term and long-term effects of concussions, and we will be investigating them here. Our guide will provide in-depth information about this health condition and answer all relevant questions, including whether sleeping with a concussion is advised.

“Do I Have a Concussion?”

If you are asking yourself this question, you should check out the concussion checklist provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. You will find potential signs, physical and cognitive symptoms, and this checklist may be a fairly reliable way for the average person to recognize a concussion. In case you recognize multiple signs from the list, it is important to turn to a healthcare professional immediately.

The checklist might make it easier to distinguish the difference of confusion vs. concussion, but in case you have any dilemma, make sure to visit a doctor as soon as possible.

Symptoms of a Concussion

If you are wondering how to test for a concussion, you can start by checking the following symptoms in case a person has recently suffered a blow to the head:

Seeing Stars

This happens because coughing can generate sufficient pressure for the retina to react. Apart from coughing, sneezing and standing up quickly can also cause you to see “stars” (x). This particular symptom is nothing to worry about, but it can be one of the signs of a concussion.

Slurred Speech and Tiredness

If you are speaking slowly or having difficulty speaking, it may be a sign of a concussion. Mental fatigue is also one of the symptoms of brain injury (x).


Suffering from a headache after a brain injury is a relatively common occurrence (x). It can be a headache from crying, and the pain can be long-lasting. Furthermore, patients often complain that the headache gets worse when lying down, and they have a weird feeling in the head that comes and goes.

Other Symptoms

Here are some other symptoms that may help you to recognize different concussion grades:

  • One pupil larger than the other
  • Sneezing blood
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Behavioral changes, including heightened sensitivity and irritability
  • Coordination problems, including dizziness, clumsiness or stumbling
  • Visible bumps and bruises
  • Memory loss
  • Sensitivity to light and noise, as well as blurred vision

If you want to know how to check for a concussion, inspect for the above symptoms and signs. If you notice more than one of them, it may be the right move to visit a doctor. They will be able to confirm the diagnosis, and you can ask them any concussion questions you need answered.

Concussion Symptoms

Causes of a Concussion


It is one of the most frequent reasons that lead to brain injury, especially in kids and teens.

A Violent Blow to the Head

You were riding a motorcycle or playing a football game, or you slipped and fell. Whatever the reason, if you sustain a hard blow to the head, you should look for concussion signs. Be particularly careful in cases when you feel a moderate or severe headache after hitting the head.

Getting Knocked Unconscious

Whether another person hit you, or you bumped into a wall, loss of consciousness can cause a concussion.

Head Being Shaken Violently

Although this doesn’t happen often, it may be an occurrence in domestic violence or another form of physical abuse.

If you have a hard bump on your head, there is no reason to panic. However, it is a good idea to look at the concussion symptoms and causes listed above. In case you have any reason to suspect that you suffered a brain injury, make sure to contact a professional and get a head injury assessment as soon as possible.

Concussion Treatment

If you are wondering what to do after a concussion, it is important to note that the majority of recovery processes lead to a complete recuperation, and do not leave any long-term effects.

The crucial thing to consider is that you will need a lot of rest, and that includes both physical and cognitive rest (x). Aside from ensuring that you get plenty of sleep every night, you should also get as much as rest as possible throughout the day and avoid any stressful or demanding tasks and activities.

Some other things your doctor might include in a concussion management plan include:

  • No sports — Only a medical professional can permit you to return to sports.
  • No alcohol allowed — Alcohol can slow down the healing process.
  • Headaches — You may receive some medications that can provide pain relief.

Post-Concussion Syndrome Treatment

In most cases, a couple of days or weeks of rest will be enough to make a complete recovery from a concussion. However, if your doctor evaluates that the recovery wasn’t successful after a while, they may diagnose post-concussion syndrome (PCS) (x).

PCS requires additional treatments, which may include vision, vestibular, physical, exertional and cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as neuro-optometric rehabilitation.

How Many Concussions Are Too Many?

It would be best if you can avoid them altogether or minimize their severity. However, the crucial thing to ensure is that multiple concussions do not happen in a short period. It is of vital importance to avoid a second brain injury while you are recovering from a concussion.

Preventing a Concussion

Prevention is better than cure, and that rule applies to a concussion, too. If you are wondering how to prevent concussions, here are some tips that you can apply.

  1. Wear protective gear. If you love riding a bike, always put on a helmet. If you often participate in sports, you can wear a concussion headband for better protection.
  2. Inspect your home for safety hazards. Brain injuries often happen in the comfort of your home, so if you want a tip on how to avoid a concussion, make sure that your property is safe. That includes lighting any areas where you may slip and fall, as well as laying down cables and rugs in a way that you won’t trip on them.
  3. Regular exercise. Keeping yourself in physical shape can play a role in concussion prevention because it supports optimal balance and strengthens your leg muscles.

Living/Dealing with a Concussion

You may have done everything in your power, but you still sustained a concussion. In that case, here are the answers to some of the most crucial questions that may trouble you while dealing with this injury.

Can You Go Sleep If You Have a Concussion?

It is a myth that you shouldn’t sleep at all if you have a concussion (x). On the contrary, you should get plenty of sleep to boost the recovery process.

However, before a person can go to sleep, it should be checked that they can have a normal conversation while they are awake. In case you notice slurred speech, problems with walking normally or dilated pupils, make sure to contact a medical professional as soon as possible.

Sleeping headaches, which is a term used to define a condition when you wake up with or because of a headache, are also a reason why you should contact your doctor.

Post-Concussion Syndrome Recovery

Although it rarely happens, PCS demands a long recovery process that can take months. During that period, you will deal with various symptoms, such as concussion vertigo and dizziness.

It is vital to note that concussions and alcohol do not go hand in hand, and you should avoid drinking while you are recovering from your injury.

What Happens If Your Brain Swells?

In case you notice or suspect brain swelling, you should visit a doctor immediately. They will confirm the diagnosis and establish the necessary treatment, which may include oxygen therapy, IV fluids or surgical treatments.

If you are wondering how long swelling should last after an injury, it depends on its severity. The crucial thing to ensure is that the brain gets enough oxygen and blood while dealing with the swelling, which will disappear in a matter of days or weeks.

Concussions in Sports

Did you know that around that 21 percent of all concussions happen during sports and recreational activities (x)? It is essential to keep in touch with your doctor and complete your first hit treatment. You should only return to playing sports when the doctor allows you, or you may risk the long-term effects of multiple concussions.

Can a Concussion Cause Memory Loss?

Yes, a brain injury may lead to memory loss. Some people that sustained a concussion do not remember the event. Fortunately, severe memory problems are not that common, although they can be a part of the long-term effects of multiple concussions.

Concussion Remedies and Supplements

If you are going through a recovery process after a concussion, you may speed up the recuperation process by using various health supplements. Here are some compounds and products that may be the most efficient in treating a concussion.


Creatine is an organic compound that stems from a combination of glycine, arginine and methionine, and its potential benefits may include improved energy and endurance. According to scientific research, creatine might help to alleviate multiple symptoms of a concussion, such as a headache, fatigue, amnesia and dizziness (x).

The recommended dosage of creatine is from 2,500 mg to 5,000 mg once per day. It is best to avoid drinking coffee or consuming caffeine in any other form while taking creatine.


Turmeric is a plant that is used as a spice in various cuisines throughout the world. It can have multiple health benefits, and all that thanks to an active ingredient called curcumin (x).

Curcumin acts as an antioxidant, and it has an anti-inflammatory effect, which can help treat the inflammation that may appear after a concussion. You should always aim for a turmeric extract that has a high dose of curcumin and other curcuminoids. The suggested dosage is up to 1,000 mg daily.

Fish Oil

The reason why fish oil can be beneficial for your brain, heart and overall health is the high quantity of omega-3 essential fatty acids. You can find these in tuna, salmon and other fatty fish, but since modern nutrition doesn’t involve eating a lot of fish, we resort to supplementation.

In cases of a concussion or other mild brain injuries, additional intake of omega-3s can be helpful (x). If you take 1,000 mg capsules, you can feel free to take two of them twice or three times daily.

Bilberry Extract Powder

Bilberries are native to Europe, and they are somewhat similar to blueberries we can find in North America (x). They have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, which may help during the concussion recovery process.

The recommended dosage is 400 mg taken once or twice per day, but make sure to take the powder with a meal for optimal absorption.

Pure CL-Phenylalanine Powder

Athletes might have heard of phenylalanine, which is an essential amino acid that we can find in various foods, and even in mother’s milk. It is interesting to note that the human body doesn’t naturally produce this amino acid, but we have to ingest it.

Phenylalanine can promote overall mental wellness, and its supplementation might help to treat ADHD, concussion and support brain health (x). The suggested dosage of the powder is set at 500 mg taken one to three times per day depending on your needs.


Resveratrol is a polyphenol found in many fruits and plants, including grapes, which is why we can ingest it by drinking red wine (x). It is an antioxidant powerhouse, and it can protect brain cells from free radical damage and oxidative stress while promoting memory and alertness during concussion recovery.

The recommended dosage for this supplement is around 250 mg taken twice per day, or as suggested by a medical professional.

Lion’s Mane

It has an unusual name, but the lion’s mane is a mushroom. It is perfectly safe and edible and often consumed in India, Korea and other countries in Asia.

Apart from having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, lion’s mane can promote brain function and boost nerve regeneration (x). The role it plays in regenerating nerve cells may be important during concussion recovery. The maximum recommended dosage is 3,000 mg daily.

The Bottom Line

A concussion is a relatively common injury in people of all ages, but the good news is that most concussions are mild and result in full recovery after a couple of weeks. However, you should take every hit to the head seriously, and check for potential symptoms and signs of a brain injury. In case you have any concussion suspicions, make sure to contact a medical professional immediately.

Author: Ryan Quigley
Graduate of Longwood University in Virginia. Part-time sports journalist covering the Vegas Golden Knights.