Concussion: Symptoms, causes, and treatment

This article investigates the causes, treatments, and diagnosis of concussion. Concussion is also known as mild brain injury, mild traumatic brain injury, mild head injury, and minor head trauma.

In 2009, there were 446,788 sports-related head injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms in the United States.

Some experts define concussion as a head injury with temporary loss of brain function, which can cause cognitive, physical, and emotional symptoms.

Concussion may also be defined as an injury to the brain, often caused by a jolt, or blow to the head. In the majority of cases, the individual does not lose consciousness.

This MNT Knowledge Center article will look at how to spot a concussion, how they are treated, and ways to avoid becoming concussed.

Fast facts on concussions

Usually, concussions are caused by a jolt or blow to the head.

Some research shows that the effects of a concussion on cognitive ability can still be measured 30 years later.

Initial symptoms might include dizziness, slurred speech, and amnesia.


Signs of concussion may not be noticeable straight away.

Immediate signs

Signs of a concussion that can be noticed immediately include:

loss of consciousness


a headache

slurred speech


ringing in the ears





Non-immediate symptoms

The following symptoms may not be noticeable for several hours or even days:



disturbed sleep

sensitivity to sounds


lack of concentration or focus


sensitivity to light

Serious symptoms that need immediate attention

The following signs and symptoms of concussion may be linked to a more serious injury, and immediate medical help should be sought:

prolonged headache

prolonged dizziness

dilated of different-sized pupils

prolonged nausea and vomiting

consistent memory loss

ringing in the ears

loss of sense of smell or taste

In children

Concussion signs and symptoms are most difficult to detect in very young children because they cannot explain how they feel. Signs may include:

lethargy and listlessness


changing sleeping patterns

altered appetite

walking or standing unsteadily, or any signs of balance and dizziness problems

Serious signs in children

The following signs usually mean the child needs immediate medical attention:

loss of consciousness

after attempting to stem the bleeding, a cut continues to bleed

any change in the way the child walks

bleeding from the ears or nose

blurred vision


continuous crying


discharge from the ears or nose


loss of appetite

prolonged headache

prolonged irritability

prolonged listlessness, fatigue, and lethargy

repeated or forceful vomiting

slurred speech

worsening headache

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