Getting better from a concussion takes days to weeks or even months. You may be irritable, have trouble concentrating, or be unable to remember things. You may also have headaches, dizziness, or blurry vision. These problems will likely recover slowly. You may want to get help from family or friends for making important decisions.
You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for a headache. DO NOT use aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil), naproxen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
You do not need to stay in bed. Light activity around the home is okay. But avoid exercise, lifting weights, or other heavy activity.
You may want to keep your diet light if you have nausea and vomiting. Drink fluids to stay hydrated.
Have an adult stay with you for the first 12 to 24 hours after you are home from the emergency room.
DO NOT drink alcohol until you have fully recovered. Alcohol may slow down how quickly you recover and increase your chance of another injury. It can also make it harder to make decisions.
As long as symptoms are present, avoid sports activities, operating machines, being overly active, doing physical labor. Ask your doctor when you can return to your activities.
If you participate in sports, a doctor will need to check you before go back to playing.
Make sure friends, co-workers, and family members know about your recent injury.
Let your family, co-workers, and friends know that you may be more tired, withdrawn, easily upset, or confused. Also tell them that you, may have a hard time with tasks that require remembering or concentrating, and may have mild headaches and less tolerance for noise.
Consider asking for more breaks when you return to work.
Talk with your employer about:
A doctor should tell you when you can:
If symptoms do not go away or are not improving after 2 or 3 weeks, talk to your doctor.
Call the doctor if you have:
Brain injury - concussion - discharge; Traumatic brain injury - concussion - discharge; Closed head injury - concussion - discharge
Giza CC, Kutcher JS, Ashwal S, et al. Summary of evidence-based guideline update: Evaluation and management of concussion in sports: Report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology. 2013;80:2250-2257. PMID: 23508730 Available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23508730.
Heegaard WG, Biros MH. Head Injury. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al., eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 41.
Tator CH. Concussions and their consequences: current diagnosis, management and prevention. CMAJ. 2013;185:975-979. PMID: 23877672 Available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23877672.
Updated by: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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