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Concussions and Headaches


Updated November 09, 2009

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Concussions occur when there is a minor injury to the brain. It can temporarily interfere with the brain's normal functioning. Concussions are common in sports such as football, in which players are likely to be struck in the head.

Concussion Symptoms

Symptoms that may occur early, or soon after a concussion is sustained, include:
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Tinnitus
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Vision changes
Other symptoms that may appear later:
  • Memory disturbances
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Personality changes
  • Fatigue
It is important for patients to note any symptoms that occur after a head injury. A detailed accounting of how you feel can help your health care provider determine the nature and severity of your condition.

What to Do About a Concussion

When in doubt, report head injuries and their associated symptoms to your health care provider. He or she can determine the best way to evaluate and treat your condition. Specifically, report any of the following symptoms:

  • Any symptom that is getting worse, such as headaches, nausea or sleepiness
  • Nausea that doesn't go away
  • Vomiting
  • Behavior changes (e.g., irritability or confusion)
  • Dilated pupils or pupils of different sizes
  • Difficulty walking or speaking
  • Bloody or clear fluids draining from the ears or nose
  • Seizures
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
There is no need to keep a concussion victim awake after the injury. If someone’s condition is that severe, he or she will likely be admitted to the hospital for evaluation. Ask good questions and provide the health care provider with as much information about the incident and injury as possible.


“Concussion.” From the U.S. National Library/National Institutes of Health Website. Accessed 3 November 2009. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/concussion.html

Harmon KG. “Assessment and management of concussion in sports.” Am Fam Physician. 1999 Sep 1;60(3):887-92, 894.

”Head Injuries: What to Watch for Afterward.” From the FamilyDoctor.org Website. Accessed 3 November 2009. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/brain/head/084.printerview.html

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