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Concussion Self-Care: What You Need to Know


A concussion is a type of brain injury that happens when your head gets hit by a forceful impact or when your brain moves rapidly inside your skull. It can cause various symptoms, such as headache, confusion, dizziness, nausea, memory loss, and more. Concussions are common in sports, accidents, and falls, but they can also happen in other situations.

If you have a concussion, you need to take care of yourself and follow some simple steps to recover safely and quickly. In this blog post, we will explain what to do for concussion care and recovery, what to avoid, and when to seek medical attention. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about concussions.

What to Do for Concussion Care and Recovery

The first thing you need to do if you have a concussion is to stop what you are doing and rest. This means no school, work, sports, or any other activities that require physical or mental exertion. You should also avoid driving, operating machinery, or being alone for 24 hours after the injury. These precautions are important to prevent further damage to your brain and to allow it to heal.

Here are some other tips to follow for concussion care and recovery:

  • Apply a cold compress to the injury to reduce swelling. You can use a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel or a cloth soaked in cold water. Do not apply ice directly to your skin.
  • Take paracetamol to control pain and headache. Do not use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, as these can increase the risk of bleeding in your brain.
  • Drink clear fluids, such as water, sports drinks, or fruit juice, for the first 8 hours after the injury. This will help prevent dehydration and nausea.
  • Sleep at least 8 to 10 hours in 24 hours. Sleeping is essential for your brain to recover and heal. Make sure your room is dark, quiet, and comfortable. Avoid napping during the day, as this can disrupt your sleep cycle at night.
  • Have someone check on you regularly to monitor your symptoms and make sure they are not worsening. If you are sleeping, they should wake you up every 1 to 2 hours and ask you some simple questions, such as your name, the date, and where you are. If you have trouble answering or seem confused, they should call for medical help immediately.
  • Avoid screen time, such as TV, computer, smartphone, or tablet, for at least 48 hours after the injury. These devices can strain your eyes, worsen your headache, and delay your recovery. They can also stimulate your brain too much and prevent it from resting.
  • Take a break from mentally demanding activities, such as work, school, reading, or gaming, for at least a week after the injury. These activities can also overwork your brain and slow down your healing. You should gradually resume them as your symptoms improve but do not push yourself too hard or too fast.
  • Avoid bright lights and loud noises, as these can trigger or worsen your symptoms. Wear sunglasses and earplugs if necessary. You can also dim the lights and lower the volume in your environment.
  • Stay hydrated and eat a light, healthy diet. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and stimulants, as these can affect your brain function and recovery. Choose foods that are easy to digest and rich in nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, lean meats, nuts, and seeds.

What to Avoid After a Concussion

One of the most important things to avoid after a concussion is another head injury. This can cause a condition called second impact syndrome, which is when your brain swells rapidly and dangerously after a second concussion before the first one has healed. This can lead to severe brain damage, coma, or death.

To prevent another concussion, you should avoid sports or any physical activities that involve contact, collision, or risk of falling until you are fully recovered and cleared by a doctor. You should also wear the recommended protective equipment, such as a helmet when you resume these activities.

Other things to avoid after a concussion include:

  • Smoking, as can impair blood flow to your brain and delay healing.
  • Stress, as this can worsen your symptoms and affect your mood and mental health. Try to relax and cope with stress in healthy ways, such as meditation, breathing exercises, or talking to someone you trust.
  • Drugs, as these can interfere with your brain function and recovery. Do not take any medications, supplements, or herbal remedies without consulting your doctor first.
  • Driving, as can be dangerous if you have impaired vision, reaction time, or judgment. Wait until your symptoms are gone and you feel confident and comfortable behind the wheel.

When to Seek Medical Attention After a Concussion

Most concussions are mild and do not require emergency medical care. However, some concussions can be serious and cause complications, such as bleeding, swelling, or infection in the brain. These can be life-threatening and require immediate treatment.

You should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you or someone you know has any of the following signs or symptoms after a concussion:

  • A severe headache that does not go away or gets worse with time
  • Vomiting more than twice or having persistent nausea
  • Convulsing, having a seizure, or losing consciousness
  • Feeling weak, numb, or unable to move your arms or legs
  • Stumbling, feeling unbalanced, or having difficulty walking or standing
  • Having abnormal eye movements, double vision, blurred vision, or unequal pupil size
  • Having slurred speech, trouble speaking, or understanding what others are saying
  • Having delayed, confused, or inappropriate responses to questions or commands
  • Having a breathing rate of less than 10 breaths per minute or a pulse of less than 50 beats per minute
  • Having a change in personality, behavior, or mood, such as being irritable, aggressive, or depressed

You should also see your doctor or a concussion specialist within a few days after the injury for a thorough evaluation and follow-up. They will check your symptoms, examine your head and neck, and perform some tests, such as a neurological exam, a cognitive assessment, and an imaging scan, to assess the extent of your injury and rule out any complications. They will also give you advice on how to manage your recovery and when you can return to your normal activities.

Frequently Asked Questions About Concussions

Here are some common questions and answers about concussions that you may find helpful:

  • Q: How long does it take to recover from a concussion?
  • A: The recovery time from a concussion varies from person to person and depends on several factors, such as the severity of the injury, the age and health of the person, and the quality of care and rest they receive. Generally, most people recover within a week or two, but some may take longer, especially if they have had previous concussions or other medical conditions. Children and older adults tend to take longer to recover than young adults.
  • Q: How can I tell if I have a concussion?
  • A: The only way to diagnose a concussion is by seeing a doctor or a concussion specialist. They will ask you about your symptoms, how the injury happened, and your medical history. They will also examine you and perform some tests to check your brain function and rule out any complications. However, there are some signs and symptoms that can indicate a possible concussion, such as headache, confusion, dizziness, nausea, memory loss, and more. If you have any of these symptoms after a head injury, you should stop what you are doing and rest, and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Q: Can I have a concussion without losing consciousness?
  • A: Yes, you can have a concussion without losing consciousness. Most people who have a concussion do not lose consciousness at all. Losing consciousness is not a reliable indicator of the severity of a concussion. You can have a mild concussion and lose consciousness, or you can have a severe concussion and remain conscious. Therefore, you should not ignore or downplay your symptoms if you do not lose consciousness after a head injury. You should still rest and see a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Q: Can I have a concussion without hitting my head?
  • A: Yes, you can have a concussion without hitting your head. A concussion can also happen when your head moves rapidly back and forth or side to side, causing your brain to hit the inside of your skull. This can happen in situations such as a car crash, a whiplash injury, or a sudden jerky movement. You may not have any visible signs of injury, such as a bump or a bruise, but you may still have a concussion. Therefore, you should pay attention to your symptoms and seek medical attention if you suspect a concussion.
  • Q: Can I drink alcohol after a concussion?
  • A: No, you should not drink alcohol after a concussion. Alcohol can affect your brain function and recovery, as well as mask or worsen your symptoms. Alcohol can also increase the risk of bleeding, swelling, or infection in your brain, especially if you are taking any medications. You should avoid alcohol until you are fully recovered and cleared by your doctor.


A concussion is a type of brain injury that can cause various symptoms and complications. It is important to take care of yourself and follow some simple steps to recover safely and quickly. You should rest, avoid physical and mental exertion, and monitor your symptoms. You should also avoid things that can harm your brain, such as alcohol, caffeine, and stress.

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