What To Do If You Think You Have a Concussion
Concussions are the most common type of head injury. You probably hear about them frequently if you’re a fan of sports. But even if you don’t play sports, you can still get a concussion. This type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when your head is bumped or shaken hard enough for your brain to hit the inside of your skull. But what should you do if you think you have a concussion?
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, so right now is the perfect time to review concussion symptoms. In this article, we’ll also cover what you should do if you think you have a concussion.
What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion?
If you have a concussion, you might not know for several days. Although the injury to your brain from a concussion is often quite violent, the symptoms don’t always appear right away. Concussion symptoms are usually temporary but can last for days or even weeks after the initial injury. You may lose consciousness when you get a concussion. However, this isn’t always the case. Many concussions happen with no loss of consciousness.
So, what are the signs of a concussion? If you experience any of the following after a blow to the head or another accident where your head gets shaken, you may have a concussion:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Blurry vision
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Confusion or brain fog
- Memory loss about the event
- Light sensitivity
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
What Happens During Concussion Testing?
If you or your child plays a sport or are at increased risk for concussions, you may have computerized concussion testing done. This starts with a baseline test—before the sports season or at a regular appointment with your doctor—to compare with your results after a head injury. This allows doctors to determine if you’ve had a concussion.
Concussion testing measures both physical and mental skills. The latter includes areas like memory and concentration. Balance testing is also part of a concussion work-up.
If you haven’t had a baseline computer test before sustaining a head injury, your doctor won’t be able to use this method to diagnose a concussion. Instead, they’ll make a diagnosis based on your symptoms and the type of injury you experienced. Providers also use basic neurological tests to measure the function of your cranial nerves and motor skills.
What To Do If You Think You Have a Concussion
If you suffer a head injury, you may be worried about having a concussion. Although not all head injuries cause a concussion, prompt treatment leads to better outcomes if you do have an injury that needs medical care.
So what should you do if you think you have a concussion? The answer depends on the type of injury you’ve sustained.
When to Go to the Emergency Room for a Concussion
A head injury paired with certain symptoms is a sign you need to seek emergency care. This means going to the nearest emergency room (ER). Always have someone else drive you if you don’t go in an ambulance because the symptoms of a concussion may impair your ability to drive safely.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you should seek emergency care if you have a head injury and experience any of the following symptoms:
- Repeated vomiting
- A loss of consciousness lasting longer than 30 seconds
- Fluid or blood coming from your ears or nose
- Pupils that look bigger than normal or are unequal sizes
- Weakness in your arms or legs
- Severe confusion or dizziness
- Slurred speech
- A severe headache that gets worse over time
- Large bumps or bruising on your head (other than the forehead)
When to Seek Non-Emergency Care for a Concussion
While playing it safe is always better than taking chances, most people who have a concussion don’t need to go to the emergency room. But you might still want to get checked out by a doctor for peace of mind and to help deal with your symptoms. Since many concussions happen during sports, especially during the evening and weekend, urgent care is often faster than waiting for an appointment at a doctor’s office.
The main difference between urgent care and the emergency room for concussion care is imaging. The ER is equipped to perform CT scans, MRIs, and other types of brain imaging. Most urgent care centers only have x-ray machines. Fortunately, for those with mild concussion symptoms, more expensive imaging isn’t needed.
Can Urgent Care Help Concussion Symptoms?
When you arrive at urgent care with a possible concussion, your provider will assess your symptoms and injuries. If they suspect your symptoms may be related to a more serious injury, they’ll refer you to the emergency room.
However, most urgent care centers are equipped to treat mild concussion symptoms. Your provider may prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-nausea medications to help manage your symptoms. For mild concussions, urgent care tends to be much cheaper than visiting the emergency room.
How to Manage Concussion Symptoms at Home
If you have a concussion, you’re much more likely to get another. This means you need to take it easy for a few days to give your body time to heal from the injury. And while physical rest is important, mental rest is also essential.
Try to avoid activities that require intense thinking and give your brain a rest by watching TV, listening to quiet music, or reading for pleasure. Keep in mind, activities that require thought may cause your concussion symptoms to get worse temporarily. If this occurs, you should find something else to do.
Ways to manage your concussion symptoms at home include:
- Getting plenty of rest (for your body and mind)
- Using over-the-counter painkillers or cool, moist cloths for headaches
- Reducing stress
- Avoiding alcohol, smoking, and drugs
Velocity Urgent Care is Here to Help
If you think you may have a concussion but aren’t having emergency-related symptoms, Velocity Urgent Care is ready to help. Our providers will assess your symptoms and injuries to determine if you need to visit the ER or if your concussion can be safely treated at home.
We can provide prescriptions for medications to relieve pain and nausea. Your provider will also answer questions about what to expect during recovery and give you tips on how to manage your concussion symptoms at home.
Velocity Urgent Care offers convenient online registration that helps you limit your contact with others during your visit. You can sign up for an appointment online to skip the waiting room and arrive when it’s your turn to be seen.
We even offer text message updates so you can wait in the car (if you prefer) until it’s time for your appointment.
Velocity Urgent Care is an in-network provider for most major insurance plans, meaning you can be seen for the cost of your co-pay and deductible.
All our locations also accept Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Veterans Administration beneficiaries are also welcome.
To learn more about our services, locations, hours, and more, visit www.velocityuc.com.