Health Conditions A-Z Neurological Disorders Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion By Sarah Bradley Sarah Bradley Twitter Website Sarah Bradley is a freelancer writer with over 10 years of experience. Her reported features and personal essays on parenting and women’s health have appeared at On Parenting from The Washington Post, Real Simple, Women’s Health, Parents, and O the Oprah Magazine, among others. health's editorial guidelines Published on March 10, 2023 Medically reviewed by Kashif J. Piracha, MD Medically reviewed by Kashif J. Piracha, MD Twitter Kashif J. Piracha, MD, FACP, FASN, FNKF, is a practicing physician at Methodist Willowbrook Hospital. learn more Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article Signs Physical Symptoms Cognitive Symptoms Emotional Symptoms Sleep Symptoms Symptoms in Children When to See a Healthcare Provider SDI Productions / Getty Images A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when the brain moves quickly and back and forth inside your head, often as the result of a sudden blow to the head or a hard fall. This movement can injure your brain by setting off chemical changes or by damaging brain cells, causing a variety of symptoms to occur. Concussions are considered “mild” brain injuries, but they should always be taken seriously and treated appropriately. It can take anywhere from several hours to a few days for the signs and symptoms of a concussion to appear, so it’s important to know what to look for if you or a loved one have recently experienced an injury that could cause a concussion. Signs of a Concussion There are four main categories of concussion symptoms that someone can experience: physical, cognitive, emotional, and sleep-related. However, sometimes people with a concussion—or other brain injury—can have trouble recognizing their own symptoms. In such cases, a caregiver or loved one should keep an eye out for certain signs if a person mentions they hurt their head or experienced a brain injury. If you are a caregiver or loved one to someone, you may want to be mindful of the following signs of a concussion: Clumsiness Slow response to questions Confusion or forgetfulness Inability to remember what happened before or after injury A dazed or stunned appearance Loss of consciousness (though this only happens in about 10% of cases) Post-Concussion Syndrome Makes It Hard for Me to Function—Here's What It's Like Physical Symptoms Physical effects, like headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises, and difficulty maintaining balance are some of the more commonly-known symptoms of concussion. Visual symptoms are also very common with concussions, affecting about 90% of people. These include: Double vision (or, seeing double) Blurry vision Difficulty focusing Trouble keeping track of objects with your eye Loss of depth perception Cognitive Symptoms Because concussions are brain injuries, it’s common to experience cognitive or neurological (brain-related) symptoms. You might experience one or more of the following symptoms that can affect your thinking: Difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks Having a hard time remembering things as easily Feeling confused, groggy, or disorientation Not being able to think clearly or having brain fog Emotional Symptoms Emotional symptoms aren’t as well known as some other categories of symptoms. As research on the emotional symptoms of concussions continues, experts have found evidence that people with a concussion may experience: Anxiety Irritability Depression or sadness Nervousness General changes in mood and behavior Sleep Symptoms If you’ve heard that you should never let a person with a suspected concussion fall asleep, that’s outdated advice. Before diagnostic testing was available to see if someone had a concussion, healthcare providers often recommended keeping someone awake for a period of time to monitor them for signs of bleeding in the brain. Now, as long as a person has received treatment for a concussion, they are allowed—and, in fact, advised—to get some sleep. That said, sleep-related problems are still possible. These symptoms may include: Sleeping too much or too little Having trouble falling asleep Feeling very drowsy or fatigued Symptoms in Children Concussions are common among people over 75, children under age four, and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24. Older adults, babies, and toddlers are more likely to get concussions from slips and falls or bumps to the head, while teens and young adults are prone to concussions because of sports and athletics. For older children, the signs and symptoms of a concussion are largely the same as they are in adults. But younger children may show additional symptoms such as: Changes in eating and sleeping habitsInconsolable cryingRefusing to nurse or take a bottleBehavior changes at home or schoolExtreme emotional responses or tantrums Forgetting recently learned skillsLoss of interest in favorite activities or toys When to See a Healthcare Provider If you or a loved one has experienced a brain injury, it’s important to visit a healthcare provider as soon as possible. This is especially the case if you or someone has fallen, felt a bump or blow to the head, been in a car accident, or experienced a sports injury. However, some concussion symptoms are particularly urgent. If you or a loved one have any of the following symptoms, it’s critical to reach out for immediate care: A severe headache that doesn’t go away Weakness or numbness in the limbs Repeated vomiting Difficulty waking up Seizures Enlarged pupils or blurry vision Extreme or sudden changes in personality, mood, or behavior Constant crying and/or refusal to eat (in babies) Loss of consciousness for any length of time Your or your loved one’s healthcare provider can get started on diagnostic testing immediately to figure out a treatment plan that works best to improve symptoms. A Quick Review While concussions are “mild” brain injuries, they still warrant medical attention and close monitoring until symptoms have resolved. When someone has a concussion, they might experience one or more physical, cognitive, emotional, and sleep-related symptoms. Common symptoms of a concussion include headache, dizziness, trouble thinking or concentrating, mood changes, and changes in sleep. However, young children with a concussion can display additional symptoms such as excessive crying and loss of interest in their favorite activities. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is a concussion? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Concussion signs and symptoms. American Academy of Pediatrics. Concussions: What parents need to know. Ferry, B, DeCastro, A. Concussion. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Concussion. American Optometric Association. Concussions. Concussion Legacy Foundation. What is a concussion? BrainLine. Is it true that you should keep someone awake who has sustained a TBI? BrainLine. Concussion symptoms in toddlers & babies.