CareNow® - November 28, 2023

With football under so much scrutiny in recent years, the topic of concussions has been in the conversation much more often than usual. Football players from tackle youth leagues to the National Football League take blows to the head that can often result in a traumatic brain injury known as a concussion.

But football players aren’t the only ones at risk of this injury. Anyone who takes a bump or violent jolt to the head can experience a concussion, including infants. In most cases, a concussion is not life-threatening; however, the effects of a concussion can be serious, especially when left untreated.

What Is a Concussion?

In most cases, a concussion is caused by a blow to the head. It’s also possible to be concussed after experiencing violent shaking or jolting of the head and upper body, for instance, if your body has taken a hit that causes your head to jerk back or to the side.

When a concussion occurs, the nerves and blood vessels in your head become stretched and bruised, which causes a chemical change in your brain. This can keep your brain from functioning properly for a short time.

While a single concussion is typically not going to cause any permanent damage to your brain, experiencing multiple concussions throughout your life can alter the structure of your brain.

What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion?

After a hard hit to the head, it can be difficult to know if you’ve experienced a concussion or not. Many people believe you have to lose consciousness to have a concussion; however, this isn’t the case.

In fact, the signs of a concussion may not appear right away. Some people don’t notice them for hours or even days after the incident. If you think you might have a concussion, you should check for symptoms immediately after your injury and then again a few days later.

The physical symptoms of a concussion can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Blurry vision
  • Severe headache
  • Ringing in the ears

Mental symptoms are just as likely to occur with a concussion and may include:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Trouble remembering the injury
  • Forgetfulness in general
  • Changes in sleep patterns

Amnesia of the specific events of the injury is an indicator of a more severe injury, so be sure to communicate this symptom to your provider.

If you're worried that you or your child have suffered a concussion, your local urgent care clinic can provide you with quick, convenient care so you have answers as soon as possible.

Learn More About Urgent Care Services

How Long Does It Take for Concussion Symptoms to Show?

Concussion symptoms can appear immediately after a head injury, but they may also develop hours to days later. It's essential to be vigilant for signs like headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, or sensitivity to light and noise, which can manifest within the first 48 hours after the incident. 

However, some symptoms, especially subtle changes in mood or behavior, might become noticeable in the days following the injury. Monitoring closely for any changes in physical or cognitive functions is crucial, as symptoms can vary widely among individuals and may not be apparent right away.

How Long Do Concussion Symptoms Last?

Concussion symptoms might resolve within a few days, while others can lead to symptoms persisting for several weeks or even months. 

If you've suffered a concussion, it's important that you rest both mentally and physically during the recovery period and gradually return to normal activities under medical supervision.

How to Tell If My Child Has a Concussion

Whether it’s a bad spill on their bicycle or a fall from a swing, young children are highly susceptible to bumping their heads. It can be difficult to identify a concussion in a young child, though, as they’re not as likely to describe how they’re feeling.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can watch for if your child has experienced head trauma, including:

  • Excessive crying
  • Vomiting
  • A dazed appearance
  • Tiring easily
  • Disinterest in their favorite toys
  • Crankiness
  • Seizures
  • Unsteadiness when walking

ER or Urgent Care for Concussion

In most cases, urgent care is an excellent solution if you think you might have experienced a concussion. Qualified providers can evaluate you and offer a proper diagnosis. They will also get you on a treatment plan to help you recover as quickly as possible (although with concussions, time and rest are two of the best ways to recover).

However, if you or someone you know has experienced a head injury and has any of the following symptoms, emergency medical care is needed:

  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • A severe headache that worsens
  • Fluid or blood coming from the nose or years
  • Ringing in the ears that doesn’t leave
  • Weakness in the arms or legs

See a full list of emergency-type symptoms.

If you don't require a trip to the ER, visit your local CareNow® for a full physical exam. Our qualified providers will give you or your child a diagnosis and treatment plan so you can get back to your life. We also offer sports physicals to help your child have a safe and healthy season.

Can Urgent Care Test for Concussions?

An urgent care is a great place to seek care if you believe you may have a concussion. A provider can give you a proper diagnosis and let you know the best course of action for your injury.

When examining you for a possible concussion, a provider will need to know more about how the injury occurred. They will also ask about your symptoms and perform a neurological exam where they’ll check your vision and eye movement, hearing, balance and coordination, neurological function, and reaction to light.

You may be asked to take a verbal, writing, or computerized test to check your problem-solving skills and your thinking ability.

Schedule a visit at your local CareNow urgent care by visiting our website.

What to Expect During a Concussion Test

During a concussion test at CareNow, you can expect a comprehensive evaluation that typically consists of neurological assessments. These assessments are designed to evaluate various cognitive and physical functions to determine the extent of the concussion. While specific procedures can vary, common components of a concussion test may include:

  • Medical History: The healthcare provider will ask questions about the injury, symptoms, and medical history.
  • Physical Examination: A thorough physical exam, including neurological tests, to assess reflexes, coordination, and balance.
  • Cognitive Assessments: Tests to evaluate memory, concentration, and other cognitive functions.
  • Imaging: In some cases, imaging tests like CT scans or MRIs might be ordered to rule out more severe injuries.
  • Symptom Assessment: Evaluating symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and sensitivity to light or noise.

The specific tests administered will depend on the symptoms and the suspected severity of the concussion. It's essential to be honest about your symptoms and how the injury occurred to assist the healthcare provider in making an accurate diagnosis.

If you believe you have suffered a concussion and need a proper diagnosis, consider visiting your local CareNow clinic. With more than 225 locations throughout the country, we’ve got a location near you.

We’re also thrilled to share that we’ve earned the distinction of Accredited Urgent Care Center from our industry’s association, Urgent Care Association (UCA).

To make your appointment, visit our website. Don’t forget to take advantage of our Web Check-In® feature too!

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Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions, or deciding if medical advice is right for you.