Concussion Danger Signs You Should Be Aware Of
A concussion is an injury of the brain caused by a sudden blow tothe head. This bump or blow could result from a car crash, a fall, a collision or even an assault from an offender.
Basically, the brain consists of soft tissue encased in the skull and cushioned by spinal fluid. However, when a person sustains a concussion, the sudden impact causes the brainto move violently back and forth. This abrupt movement may force the brain to twist in your head, subsequently damaging brain cells, blood vessels, and injuring the nerves. The impact may also create chemical changes in the brain causing it not to function normally.Putting all these factors into consideration, it is only logical to seek medical help as soon as possible whenever you or your loved one suffers from a concussion.
Why is it Important to Know the Danger Signs of a Concussion?
Even though most concussions are mild, the effects can be devastating to the health of the victim. If left untreated, the patient may fall into a coma or suffer from a stroke. In more severe cases, a victim of repeated concussions may succumb to their injuries.
Alarmingly, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that concussions accounted for over 50,000 deaths in 2010 alone. Considering the fact that most people do not seek medical help after a concussion, it is highly likely that these figures have risen over the years.
Notably, concussions are more common in active children, young adults, and competitive athletes. However, this type of traumatic brain injury is not limited by age. Apparently, older adults are fast becoming victims of concussions, typically due to falls. Older adults are frail and more likely to have impaired vision and de-stabilizing conditions. Based on these facts, they are likely to lose balance and fall more often compared to younger people.
The sad part is that most elderly people are less likely to admit to falling because they fear their independence will be taken away from them. This simple act of denial puts a great risk on their lives.
Essentially, the effects of a concussion are more devastating among the elderly compared to the younger patients. It may increase the risk of developing dementia or aggravate an existing mental condition. Worse still, it may also turn fatal. For these reasons, it is important to know the danger signs of a concussion to save your loved ones from the harrowing effects of this brain injury.
Concussion Danger Signs
The signs of a concussion are extremely subtle at first and it is very difficult to tell from the onset considering the fact that it is not a physical, external injury. In some instances, the symptoms may appear days or even weeks after the injury.
Furthermore, these signs and symptoms entirely depend on various factors such as age, gender and the impact of the blow. All these factors make it relatively difficult to diagnose the injury, and this may hinder the recovery of the victim. For these reasons, it is important to know the danger signs of a concussion in order to take the necessary steps to treat the injury.
1. Drowsiness or inability to wake up
Drowsiness is an extremely common occurrence a few hours after suffering a concussion, but it may get worse and impede the victim from waking up. This is a dangerous sign and if left untreated, it may cause prolonged unconsciousness and the victim may fall into a coma.
2. Slurred speech
Another common sign associated with concussion is slurred speech, coupled with numbness or decreased coordination. If the patient is unable to hold a conversation for long periods, then it is time to call 911, or take them to the emergency department. This might be a sign of a dangerous collection of blood in the brain.
3. Confusion, feeling dazed or unusual behavior
Being confused might seem normal, particularly if the victim is a senior. However, this should not be a reason to ignore the injured party. Increased confusion might subsequently lead to unusual behavior, and the patient may even injure themselves further.
4. One pupil larger than the other
One of the first danger signs of a concussion is when one pupil becomes larger than the other. This sign essentially means that the brain cells and blood vessels on one side are either dead or damaged. If left unattended, the effects could turn fatal.
5. Balance problems
Unsteady movement and balance problems are other signs to watch out for. If the patient cannot walk steadily for a short distance, then this is a sign that the cerebrum (which is located at the back of the brain) has been affected tremendously. The impact could cause paralysis or improper coordination if not addressed on time.
6. Sensitivity to noise
Sensitivity to noise is not anything strange, especially among the elderly. However, if this feeling becomes intolerable, then it only means that the impact of the concussion is tremendous. Always consult a health care professional if your loved one complains about increased sensitivity to noise.
7. Convulsions and constant vomiting
Even though vomiting is a common symptom of a concussion, repeated vomiting and nausea coupled with shaking or twitching is a sign of a serious neurological injury. In most cases, constant vomiting may lead up to convulsion or seizures, which may further aggravate the situation and cause more bodily harm.
8. Loss of consciousness
Most people, especially the elderly are likely to become unconscious after suffering a concussion. This is because they are typically frail, and might not be able to withstand the impact of a fall. Importantly, even a brief loss of consciousness is a serious cause of concern. To avoid further complications, always rush the victim to the hospital or call a healthcare professional.
9. Frequent headaches that get worse with time
A headache that gets worse with time and does not go away is a sign of hematoma. The impact of a concussion could be so dreadful, subsequently causing clotting of blood in the brain (hematoma). This condition is extremely dangerous as it could lead to brain damage or even death.
10. Memory loss
Memory loss is quite common among seniors. However, suffering a concussion may lead to long-term memory loss, and increase the risk of developing dementia. As you might be aware, dementia is not reversible and does not have a cure. To avoid this situation, rush the patient to the emergency department if they become too forgetful or experience frequent memory lapses weeks after suffering a concussion.
Treating a Concussion
In most cases, the symptoms of a concussion are not fatal and might subside on their own after a few hours or days. However, you should never take any chances with the health of your loved ones in case they experience a concussion. With this in mind, it is prudent that you learn a few first aid skills to deal with the trauma before seeking emergency care. Below are some tips on how to deal with a concussion:
- Have the patient take plenty of rest
- Guard against repeat concussions
- Share information about the concussion with caregivers
- Take the victim to the hospital
- Only give the patient medication approved by a specialist doctor
- Reduce the time spent on TV, video games or sports
- Limit the amount of time spent socializing
So How Can You Prevent a Concussion?
Even though accidents and falls might be unpredictable, it is very much possible to prevent a concussion from happening. This can be achieved by:
1. Making the home safe
Make your home safe by replacing or covering slippery tiles and floors with carpets and rugs. Also, remove any furniture that might cause obstruction and create enough space for your loved ones to move freely.
2. Investing in protective equipment
Wearing protective equipment such as headgears, mouth guards and padding can also help prevent traumatic head injuries. This measure is recommended for anyone who is physically active, including the elderly who might have the energy to participate in various sports.
3. Driving smart
Always wear a seatbelt when driving and abide by all traffic rules. This also applies to the occupants of the vehicle. Additionally, do not drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs as this might increase the risk of car accidents.
4. Avoiding Fights
Concussions, especially among young people normally happen during fights. To avoid this situation, always look for diplomatic ways to settle disputes, as a single hit on the head might lead to a concussion
A concussion may happen to anyone, but the elderly are becoming more prone to this traumatic head injury for various reasons. As they grow older, your elderly loved ones become fragile and weak, further increasing their risk of falling. The sad part is that they might not tell you about the fall, and this can be extremely dangerous to their health. For this reason, it is imperative that you know the danger signs of a concussion for you to seek proper emergency care as soon as possible.