When you get into any type of accident, one of the first few inspections that medics carefully check is the head for any sort of head injuries, which could lead to a concussion headache.
A head injury is any kind of injury to the brain, skull or scalp that is caused by any sort of impact or accident. Head injuries can range from a mild bruise to a brain injury. Some common head injuries include skull fractures, scalp wounds, and a concussion.
Understanding a Concussion Headache
The severity of the treatments and aftermath of the injury usually vary depending on the degree of the injury and on what caused it.
However, no matter how severe the head injury is, even if its just a bloodless hit in the head in a vehicular accident, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. If possible, get medical treatment or tests to be sure that there are no internal head injuries.
This is especially important if you have a sudden headache after bumping your head, as this might be a concussion headache.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion(1) is a temporary brain injury resulting from a head injury that is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head. The condition usually lasts up to few days or weeks but can also cause long-lasting problems that may require emergency treatment.
This injury is acquired as a result of a direct hit to the head or from sudden violent shaking of the head. As a result of these changes in brain function, the victim can experience a concussion headache, confusion, memory loss or temporary amnesia, dizziness, double vision, coordination and balance problems, disrupted speech, as well as loss of consciousness.
Concussions are one of the most commonly acquired head injuries. It is often signaled by a concussion headache as one of its common symptoms in both children and adults. However, it is possible to experience concussion without a headache.
We all have those moments in our lives when we get ourselves into accidents or situations that make us bump our head. For instance, when you are playing and you accidentally hit your head with a ball, or maybe you crash or bump into something and you hit your head. With all these cases, you suddenly feel a headache or feel dizzy and nauseous.
The brain is made up of soft tissues that are surrounded by spinal fluid and are protected by the skull. Now, what happens when you sustain a concussion from an accident? The brain can be literally shaken up and move around your head due to the impact. This incident can cause trauma in the brain that results in swelling and can injure the nerves and blood vessels.
The head is one of the most vital parts of the body, so a brain injury can affect one’s whole body. The damage that can result is broad and it should never be taken lightly.
Signs and Symptoms
Diagnosing a concussion can be tricky. Aside from a concussion headache and nausea, there are other symptoms that are not easily detected such as vision and behavioral problems.
For children, the signs and symptoms can be hard to detect. However, since they are much prone to simple accidents like bumping their heads, falling from the crib and accidents while playing, parents and guardians should be wary of the signs that their children could possibly display.
Each concussion is different and the symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the head injury occurred and some of these symptoms may last for a short period of time. However, other symptoms may linger.
A concussion headache is one of the most common symptoms of concussion. Simple concussions can last for relatively a short time. However, it is still possible for the symptoms to manifest for weeks in some people.
How can you tell if you have had a concussion?
When you have a concussion, it is understood that there must have been some imbalance happening in your brain due to the impact. As a result, you may experience a brief period of unconsciousness, a concussion headache, dizziness, blurred vision, disturbances of balance, confusion and possibly temporary amnesia(2). However, there are concussions that are not life-threatening.
There are different kinds of concussions that display a wide range of symptoms and can be grouped into categories according to which part of the body it affects. Here are some of the types of concussions that one may experience.
This concussion is relatively common in children and adolescents. These are mild and can be gradually treated in a few days and does not result in other complications or long-term health problems. as long as no other head injury is sustained. Usually one of the symptoms for this is a painful headache.
Unlike simple concussions, this concussion rather displays persistent symptoms that cause some changes in normal brain function. Severe concussions and multiple concussions are characterized as complex and may manifest symptoms that are severe. These include seizures, post-concussion syndrome (dizziness, headaches or blurred vision), swelling or bleeding on the brain.
Concussions can also be categorized according to grades which indicate the severity of the head injury.
Grade 1 Concussion is a mild case of concussion where the victims can experience dizziness, confusion and a mild concussion headache for a short time after sustaining the injury. However, they can recover completely in more or less 20 minutes. It does not make the person lose consciousness.
The symptoms are similar to Grade 1 however the symptoms can last for longer and can result in post-traumatic amnesia. This means that the person may not remember the injury.
People who sustain this type have severe symptoms and can lose consciousness for a brief period of time. Aside from being unconscious, the person can also not remember anything about the injury.
Categories of Symptoms
Aside from the types of concussions, the symptoms of concussion can also be categorized depending on where the injury has affected the function of the body. These show how dangerous it is to have a head injury, never mind whether we evaluate it as mild or severe.
Concussion affects the behavior and cognitive areas of the person. Symptoms include decreased concentration, difficulty in understanding new learning, increased fatigue, and decreased multi-tasking ability.
Normal functioning of the eye is disrupted.
The vestibular system is affected where there is disruption in the movement of the eye and affects one’s ability to detect motion.
The extra-cranial region includes the neck and spinal cord, which if they are affected, can lead to symptoms similar to a concussion headache.
A concussion can cause a person to be confused about his thoughts, making it hard for the person to turn it off. This leads to excessive worry and concern.
Post- Traumatic Migraine
The symptoms include nausea, headaches, and sensitivity to light.
Concussion headaches are unexpected, since they can be acquired from a head injury due to accidents, so it is really hard to prevent. However, there are several precautions that you can take to lessen the possibility of a seriously traumatic brain injury.
Wear protective equipment when needed
When participating in any high-contact/ high-risk sports such as boxing, football, soccer, skateboarding, horseback riding and other extreme sports, it is important to wear head protection.
Wearing headgear and other protective equipment can safeguard your body from crucial injuries, especially serious head injuries that can result in brain damage.
Keep safe when inside a vehicle
With thousands of vehicular accidents around the world declaring casualties due to negligence, it’s more important than ever to wear a seat belt when inside a vehicle.
Before driving, always secure all seat belts. It is also important to not drive when intoxicated. Aside from not wearing a seat belt, drunk driving is one of the most common reasons for road accidents. Also, always obey the traffic rules and drive with care.
When you get into accidents, it is important to safeguard yourself from the possibility of having serious injuries. Even if you only have seemingly minor injuries, it is important to seek medical attention to be sure. Some injuries may not seem bad, however, there are some symptoms that progress over time.
What to do if you have one
The severity of a concussion dictates the treatment the patient should seek. Concussions can be mild or complex, so it is important to safeguard yourself from the lasting effects of your injuries.
If you are having signs and symptoms of a possible concussion, seek professional medical attention so you can find out if you’ll be needing treatments and can identify what type of concussion it is.
If you have a Grade 1 or Grade 2 concussion, you have to wait for the concussion headache symptoms to wear off before going back to daily activities. However, if you have suffered from a Grade 3 concussion, which is a serious type of concussion, observation and a treatment plan is advised.
Concussion Treatment and Rehabilitation
Most concussions are resolved with good rest as per advice from your doctor.
But according to some studies, just having the right amount of rest is no longer the best approach. Early intervention of various therapies can improve the chance of recovery and a rehabilitation program is needed to get you back to where you were prior to the concussion.
For adults, a concussion headache can be more dangerous, which is why early intervention is a must. Concussions may vary, thus every concussion rehabilitation plan is different.
If the concussion was acquired during a sports activity, it is advised to stop until the concussion is thoroughly treated. Since your brain has most likely been injured, allow it to recuperate and don’t get stressed out. If it happens to be disrupted again, another concussion is likely to happen.
The effect of repeat concussions can cause cumulative injury to the brain. Successive concussions are life-threatening since it can have devastating effects such as permanent brain damage, disabilities, swelling of the brain and even death.
After seeking a doctor’s advice, you will be advised to undergo some concussion headache therapies to help get you back to normal.
- Visual rehabilitation
- Whiplash therapy
- Diet and nutrition
- Exercise therapy
- Vestibular rehabilitation
- Education and reassurance
With physical therapy, issues with balance, coordination, reaction time, the vestibular system, physical symptoms like a concussion headache and dizziness, multitasking ability and peripheral awareness can be addressed.
Cognitive Therapy (Speech and Language)
This is helpful especially in children that may have suffered from delayed cognitive skills due to concussion. Through speech and language therapy, issues with handwriting, learning, retention, comprehension, recall and speech and language skills can be addressed.
With occupational therapy, issues with visual motor skills can be addressed.
When you experience repeated headaches and other discomforting symptoms after being in an accident, it could be possible that you are having a concussion headache.
It can be hard to detect in children, thus parents and guardians should be wary of the symptoms that the child could possibly manifest after being in an accident (be it falling from the crib, bumping their head etc.). For adults, concussion can be dangerous. The effect of repeat concussions can cause cumulative and permanent injury to the brain.
Successive concussions can also be life-threatening since it can have devastating effects resulting to brain damage. Therefore, rest and treatment are advised to recover from this condition.
Learn more about what a headache might mean based on this headache location chart.