New or ongoing symptoms after a concussion (postconcussive syndrome)

A concussion occurs when the head sustains a hard blow and the impact jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. The rapid movement interrupts the brain's normal activities. Although there may be cuts or bruises on the head or face, there may be no other signs of a brain injury.

After a mild concussion, it is not uncommon to have a mild headache or a general feeling of not being "quite right." These symptoms usually go away on their own over a few days. Many people have some symptoms for up to 3 months after a head injury, and a small number of people have symptoms for as long as a year afterward.

Sometimes, after a concussion you may feel as if you are not functioning as well as you did before the injury (postconcussive syndrome). New symptoms may develop, or you may continue to be bothered by symptoms from the injury, such as:

  • Changes in your ability to think, remember, or solve problems.
  • Changes in your ability to concentrate.
  • Headaches.
  • Changes in your sleep patterns, such as the inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping all the time.
  • Changes in your personality.
  • Lack of interest in your daily activities.
  • Becoming easily angered or anxious for no apparent reason; feeling like fighting.
  • Changes in your sex drive.
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or unsteadiness that makes it hard to stand or walk (ataxia).
  • Symptoms that develop when you do physical activities.

Some of these changes may be related to stress from the events surrounding the accident that caused the injury. It may take several weeks to many months for these symptoms to go away on their own. But these symptoms may also be signs of a more serious injury or of slow bleeding between the brain and the covering of the brain (subdural hematoma).

Last Updated: July 9, 2008

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