Concussions: What Are the Risks?

Concussions can cause serious short-term and long-term health risks

(RxWiki News) Concussions are more than just a blow to the head. They can have serious short- and long-term effects.

Many people, such as kids who play contact sports, may want to just laugh it off after they've sustained a concussion. But that's typically not advisable.

Below, we'll take a look at the risks tied to concussions and what to do if you've had a head injury.

What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). These injuries typically occur when someone has an impact to the head that is strong enough to cause the brain to whip back and forth inside the skull. While concussions are considered to be mild TBIs, they can still do serious damage.

What Are the Possible Short-Term Effects of Concussions?

Movies and television shows depict people getting hit in the head and losing their memory. While this is often exaggerated, memory loss is one of the common short-term effects of concussions.

Here are some other short-term effects of concussions:

  • Sensitivity to sound and light
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Listlessness or being dazed

If you or a loved one is showing any of these symptoms or concussion effects, seek immediate medical care.

What Are the Long-Term Effects?

According to University of Utah Health, long-term effects of concussions are somewhat rare. In fact, only around 20 percent of people who have concussions continue to show effects after six weeks.

Still, for people who are at risk of suffering multiple concussions or those who had a very serious concussion, long-term effects may be likely. That's why it's critical to see a doctor no matter how serious you think your head injury is or isn't.

Some research has linked repeated blows to the head — such as those sometimes seen in contact sports like tackle football — to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a brain condition linked to the early development of dementia and other cognitive effects.

Other effects of concussions don't take years to develop like CTE, but they also don't always show immediately after the blow to the head occurs. Here are a few examples:

  • Taste and smell disorders
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Depression and similar mental health problems
  • Memory problems
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Personality changes like increased irritability

Even if you aren't sure that you received a concussion but are showing some of these signs, it's important to contact your health care provider.