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Be safe, not sorry: Learn concussion signs

March 3, 2018—If you don't know the signs and symptoms of a concussion, Brain Injury Awareness Month is a good time to learn them. Doing so just might save your life—or the life of a loved one.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) usually caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can also be caused by a hit to your body that jiggles your head (and brain) back and forth.

This abrupt movement can cause your brain to bounce around or twist in your skull. Ultimately, it can damage brain cells and cause chemical changes.

Concussions can happen to anyone. That's why you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms.

What does a TBI feel like?

If you've experienced a hit to your head or a fall that jolted your body, you should review the symptoms of a concussion. What are they? Dizziness and headaches are some you may already know, but others include slurred speech, blurred vision, feeling dazed or confused, nausea, vomiting, and ringing in the ears.

These symptoms might not show up for hours or even a few days. And delayed symptoms to watch for include sleeping more, getting easily irritated, having trouble concentrating, and being unable to remember the injury.

What does it look like?

Maybe it was your child or teammate who fell. Signs to watch for include appearing to be dazed or confused, moving clumsily, losing consciousness (even briefly), being unable to recall the injury, not wanting to eat, and showing personality changes.

Remember, because symptoms aren't always immediate, be on the lookout for several days after the incident.

When to get help

Concussions can turn deadly, so seek medical attention immediately if the person with the head injury has:

  • A headache that won't go away.
  • Weakness, numbness or loss of coordination.
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea.
  • Convulsions or seizures.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Trouble recognizing people or places.
  • One pupil dilating more than the other.
  • The inability to stop crying (especially in children).

And remember, if you've had a concussion before, you're at higher risk for having another. When in doubt, check it out.

How much do you know about the human brain? Test yourself with this quiz.

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