Symptoms and Signs of Concussion

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 8/19/2022

Doctor's Notes on Concussion

Concussion refers to a mild traumatic brain injury that causes functional changes in brain function but does not lead to structural damage to the brain. The loss of function is short-lived and goes away on its own. Trauma to the head from any cause, such as an accident or sports injury, is the cause of a concussion.

Symptoms of a concussion may be severe or very subtle and hard to describe, even by the affected person. These may include: 

  • headache
  • loss of consciousness, 
  • mild confusion, 
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • irritability, 
  • slowing of reaction times, and 
  • difficult concentrating or feeling that one’s thoughts are “foggy.” 

Other associated symptoms and signs may include:

  • changes in sleep pattern (either being unable to sleep or excessive sleep), and 
  • reduced tolerance of bright lights or loud sounds.

What Is the Treatment for Concussion?

Rest or limiting activities that require mental focus or concentration is the initial treatment for concussion in the first 48 hours after the injury. Daily activities may be increased gradually during recovery. 

It is recommended not to engage in vigorous physical activity while recovering, although some light activity may be recommended. It is also important to avoid activity that could result in another head injury.

Over-the-counter acetaminophen may be needed for headache relief.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.