Concussion: Emergency first aid

A concussion generally occurs from a fall, and is one of the most common injuries to the head. What are the symptoms of a concussion and when should I see a doctor?

What is it?

How does a concussion occur?

The brain is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid, which protects it from impact-related injuries. When your head is jolted, for example during an accident, a fall or a blow, the cerebrospinal fluid is sometimes unable to absorb the impact and the brain strikes the skull bones as a result. This may cause a concussion. A concussion is the mildest form of traumatic brain injury. It does not generally cause permanent damage to the brain.

Read more about concussion on our clinical picture of traumatic brain injury.    

What are the symptoms?

What are the symptoms of a concussion?

Typical signs of a concussion are:

  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Brief memory lapses

Severe concussion can also include the following symptoms:

  • Memory lapses
  • Confusion
  • Speech problems
  • Temporary loss of consciousness

The symptoms of a concussion may occur immediately after the injury or only develop after several hours or days. 

When to see a doctor?

When should I see a doctor about a concussion?

If you suspect that you have a concussion, you should always see a doctor immediately, particularly with the following symptoms:

  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Speech problems
  • Extreme dizziness
  • Severe headache

What should I do if I have a concussion?

Following a diagnosis of concussion, the attending doctor should inform the patient what symptoms to look out for. You should generally give your brain time to rest and recover normal function. Please keep the following measures in mind:

  • Avoid physical activity and sport
  • Avoid watching television, working at a computer and reading for lengthy periods
  • If necessary, take medication for headaches/nausea

A mild concussion does not generally require any further treatment. Depending on the symptoms, it may be advisable to take sick leave from work for several days or to even stay in bed to rest.