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When you have a head injury that’s seemingly not severe, it’s still considered a mild traumatic brain injury. The term “mild” can be comforting, but the reality is that even a mild concussion can lead to serious complications in some cases.
One example is the long-term effects you may experience after a head injury, sometimes known as post-concussion syndrome.
Post-concussion syndrome is difficult to diagnose, but you may know for a fact that something is off with how you feel since your accident or injury.
Here What Should You Know about Post-Concussion Syndrome
Post-concussion syndrome is considered a complex disorder with varied symptoms that can last for weeks or even months following a concussion. As was touched on, a concussion is a mild form of a traumatic brain injury that can occur after a blow to the head, or with shaking or movement of the head or body.
A concussion doesn’t necessarily mean you lose consciousness, and the potential to develop post-concussion syndrome isn’t thought to be linked to the severity of your original injury.
For most people who experience post-concussion syndrome, symptoms occur within seven to 10 days after the injury and subside within three months. In rare cases, the symptoms may go on for more than a year.
What Are the Symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome?
There’s a fairly long list of possible symptoms you may experiencing following a concussion, some of which include:
- Memory problems
- Loss of concentration
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Sometimes, but not often, decreases in smell and taste
For some people, the symptoms may feel like migraines or tension headaches.
What Causes It?
We’re not entirely sure what causes post-concussion syndrome, but some experts believe it could be the result of damage to the structure of the brain, or perhaps a disruption in the messaging system that’s in the nerves.
Other doctors and researchers think it could be psychological because the symptoms such as headaches and sleep disturbances are in line with what people experience when they have anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Researchers aren’t sure why some people develop post-concussion symptoms and others don’t. As was mentioned, there’s no identified link with the severity of the original injury.
However, there are some commonalities between the people who most often develop these symptoms.
For example, a history of PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress, and a poor social support system are often seen in people who have longer-lasting concussion symptoms.
Increasing age can be a risk factor, and women are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition, although this could be because women seek medical care more often.
According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, an estimated 10% of people with a concussion will develop the ongoing symptoms, but other estimates put that number anywhere between 5 and 30%.
How Is It Diagnosed?
There’s no one definitive test that will let you and your doctor know if you have post-concussive syndrome. Your doctor may run a scan to rule out any other underlying problems in your brain that are causing your symptoms.
For example, your doctor might do a CT or MRI, which will show them if there are any brain abnormalities present.
You may be referred to other specialists during the course of the diagnosis process.
For example, if you’re having significant dizziness, you may be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. If your symptoms including depression or anxiety, you may be referred to a mental health professional.
Are Treatments Available?
Since the symptoms can be so broad, there aren’t any specific treatments for post-concussion syndrome.
Mostly your health care provider will probably work to alleviate the symptoms as much as possible.
For example, if you’re struggling with headaches, your doctor may prescribe medication.
Your doctor might also encourage you to do cognitive behavioral therapy, which can help with memory issues or symptoms such as fogginess and fatigue.
Finally, people often fear that post-concussion syndrome is going to be permanent. While it can be more difficult to treat for some and longer-lasting depending on the person, it’s not considered a permanent situation, unless you don’t seek treatment for the symptoms. Then, the particular symptoms could worsen or be longer-lasting.
If you think you have post-concussion syndrome or you think your loved one might, it’s important to speak with a health care professional sooner rather than later. It can diminish your quality of life otherwise.