How to tell if you have a concussion

A concussion is an injury to the brain. It results from a sudden hit or blow to the head. This can also occur when the head suddenly jolts back and forth. There are about 3.8 million concussion cases in the United States each year. The most common causes of these injuries are:

  • Vehicular collisions where the head gets hit or shook due to intense impact
  • High-impact and extreme sports
  • Falls or blows to the body

The signs of a concussion may not be visible at first. They may not appear until up to 48 hours later. It’s possible to acquire a concussion and not know it. Many people believe that a concussion always causes people to faint or pass out. However, that’s not always true. In fact, most concussions don’t involve a loss of consciousness.

Not recognizing the signs of a concussion can have serious consequences. It’s possible for any damage caused by a concussion to last 30 years or more.

Tell-tale signs of a concussion

It’s crucial to know how to identify a concussion and to know when you need to go to the ER. If a head injury doesn’t seem serious, you may seek medical care from an urgent care or walk-in clinic. But if you experience any of the following signs, you should call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room as soon as possible.


Episodes of confusion or feeling as though you’re in a mental fog is a serious symptom of a concussion. If you or someone you love seems confused after getting hit on the head, it’s important to seek medical help right away.

Trouble walking

Balance problems and difficulty walking are both signs of a concussion that you shouldn’t ignore. These problems occur in about 30% of people who have a concussion.


Many people experience nausea and vomiting following a concussion. This could be a sign of a serious neurological injury.

Unusual behavior

It’s important to be on the lookout for strange or bizarre behavior after a head injury. It’s often an indication of brain damage. If a person becomes agitated or restless after getting hit in the head or getting involved in an accident, it’s important to undergo concussion testing right away.

Severe headache

Headaches are quite common with head injuries. They usually begin within seven days after an injury and can last for months. A headache will usually go away with rest but if it’s severe or getting worse, it should get checked out right away. 

Convulsions or seizures

Convulsions or seizures are a sign of a serious head injury. You shouldn’t ignore a seizure as it could indicate bleeding in the brain. If you’ve had a seizure after a head injury, undergo concussion testing right away.

What to do for a concussion

Most people fully recover from concussions. The faster you get treatment, the better the chance for a full recovery.

Here are tips on what to do while recovering from a concussion: 

  • You may only return to play, work, or any physical activity if your health care provider says it’s safe to do so. When you do, do it gradually, performing tasks one at a time until you’re ready to go back to your normal routine.
  • Avoid any physically demanding activity to avoid impact syndrome. This occurs when a person gets a second concussion even before the first one fully heals. This is a rare but fatal condition.
  • Take only medications that a licensed medical professional prescribed and approved for you
  • If possible, take note of any unusual occurrence. For example, are there certain things that are more difficult for you to remember? Do you get distracted easily? Are you unable to do two simple things at the same time, like preparing meals while watching TV?
  • Stay away from activities that require you to think or focus too much. These include reading a book, analyzing finances, balancing your checkbook, or solving difficult puzzles.

Ignoring the signs of a concussion can lead to long-term memory loss, post-concussion syndrome, and other serious medical conditions. Getting help quickly can rule out more serious neurological problems, especially for high-risk individuals like children and the elderly.

Get tested now

Some urgent care centers will provide BrainScope EEG concussion testing for patients who have head injuries. This concussion test measure brain function after a head injury. BrainScope has received more than $32 million dollars from the US Department of Defense for research. The company has also received awards from the NFL and GE.

If you’re wondering how to tell if you have a concussion, visit one of our Nao Medical locations today or schedule your appointment online for reliable medical advice from our experts.

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Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered, construed or interpreted as legal or professional advice, guidance or opinion.

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