A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow to the head. While most concussions heal easily, some do not. Instead, some concussions result in post-concussive syndrome, a disorder that can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year. Your chances of developing post-concussive syndrome do not appear to be tied to how bad the concussion was—even a mild concussion can have trouble healing.
What Are the Symptoms of Post-Concussive Syndrome?
Every concussion, no matter how mild, needs to be checked by a doctor. Make sure you see a professional if a head injury causes you to lose consciousness, become confused, or have amnesia. However, not every concussion will turn into post-concussive syndrome.
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Depression or anxiety
The headaches you experience are most likely to be tension headaches, though some people get migraines. You may also notice a behavioral change in you or in your family member who has suffered a traumatic brain injury: he or she may be more irritable, confrontational, stubborn, or suspicious.
How Is Post-Concussive Syndrome Diagnosed?
There isn’t a set test for diagnosis. Your doctor will look at your symptoms and your brain injury to see what’s going on. You may need to undergo an MRI or a CT scan to make sure your brain doesn’t have any larger problems that could cause your symptoms.
How Is Post-Concussive Syndrome Treated?
Post-concussive syndrome cannot be cured, and there is no set treatment. Your brain will heal itself with time. While that healing happens, your doctor can help you manage your symptoms so you can stay comfortable.
Symptoms like headaches can often be treated successfully with medication—common choices include amitriptyline, topiramate, and gabapentin. Be careful in using over-the-counter pain relievers. If overused, these drugs may make your headaches worse. Make sure you consult with your doctor about what to take when you get a headache.
Emotional symptoms like depression and anxiety can be treated with medications and psychotherapy. However, emotional problems and other symptoms, like fatigue or insomnia, will probably get better on their own. If you are really struggling, you should definitely reach out for help. However, just knowing that your symptoms will likely improve soon may be enough to help you feel better.
If you’re worried that you or a family member has post-concussive syndrome, contact us. NeuroHealth Arlington Height’s team are experts on this disorder, and we can evaluate, diagnose, and treat you. Call us at (847) 754-9343 for an appointment.