Concussion Symptoms: What You Need to Know

What You Need to Know: Symptoms of Concussion

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. Concussions are the result of a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Just like people, every concussion is unique. In fact, healthcare professionals in the field of brain injury often say, “If you’ve seen one concussion, you’ve seen one concussion.” Traumatic brain injury can have wide-ranging physical and psychological effects. Most signs or symptoms of a concussion are evident soon after the traumatic event, while you may only become aware of others days or weeks later.

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of a concussion:

General Symptoms of Concussion

  • Headaches or neck pain that do not go away
  • Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading
  • Getting lost or easily confused
  • Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation
  • Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason)
  • Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping)
  • Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance
  • Urge to vomit (nausea)
  • Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions
  • Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Ringing in the ears

Most people make a good recovery from a concussion, but it’s important to take what may seem like just a bump on the head seriously. A common question is when should I go to the hospital for a concussion? If you or a loved one notices any of the above symptoms, you should seek medical attention right away. Even seemingly minor bumps can result in life threatening brain bleeding or other serious conditions that can only be identified and treated in a hospital.

Children Concussion Symptoms

Children with a concussion can have the same symptoms as adults, but it is often harder for them to share how they feel. Call your child’s doctor if they have had a blow to the head and you notice any of these concussion symptoms:

  • Tiredness or listlessness
  • Irritability or crankiness (will not stop crying or cannot be consoled)
  • Changes in eating (will not eat or nurse)
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in the way the child plays
  • Changes in performance at school
  • Lack of interest in favorite toys or activities
  • Loss of new skills, such as toilet training
  • Loss of balance or unsteady walking
  • Vomiting

Sometimes adults and children complain of “just not feeling like themselves.” Children often have a hard time explaining that they don't feel normal and it's up to the parents and their friends, family or coaches to know that they aren't acting like themselves and get them to rest or to seek medical attention.

Posted on BrainLine July 25, 2018. Reviewed March 28, 2019.

About the Author

BrainLine offers authoritative information and support to anyone whose life has been affected by brain injury or PTSD: people with brain injuries, their family and friends, and the professionals who work with them.

BrainLine is a national service of WETA-TV, the flagship PBS station in Washington, D.C. Learn more >

Comments (119)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

I am a goal keeper too and blocked a ball with my face. It hit the side of my temple and I am experiencing most of the symptoms. I would recommend anyone with any/all of these to see their trainer and tell their parents immediately. The trainer can administer an impact test that will help him or her evaluate the severity and begin a back-to-play plan to get you on the field. You should not keep playing because further impacts can cause worse damage and you will be out of play for much longer.

Don't be afraid. Ask your parents to take you to the doc. It's better to be sure you are okay.

To the soccer-playing student who wrote the last comment: it's not uncommon for a young person to worry that they are going to be accused of "looking for attention." After all, adults throw that statement at kids all the time. But I would urge you to think of the word "attention" in another way... YES, you should be asking for attention. Medical attention. There's no shame in listening to your body, and wanting to keep yourself healthy and safe. Be a responsible athlete: seek medical attention, so you can be the best player you can be for your team.

I have a very minor case of almost all the symptoms above, and have been having them since I got a nice smack to head when I blocked a shot in goal with my face in soccer. I'm afraid to tell my parents though, because it's fairly minor, and I'm worried they'll think I'm making it up for attention

I had a work accident that ended in a concussion. I was dizzy, lack of balance, and it sounded like everything was echoing in a tin can.  It lasted for 2 months but they sent me back to work and said I was ok. Now 4 years later I am realizing I have memory loss and nerve damage that I can't prove.

I didn't realize till last year, which was a year after I had a concussion that it was traumatic brain injury.  I found this out from a friend whose son had a TBI.  This is a great site.  The TBI was from a fall on a thin patch of ice and I didn't think anything about it at first.  I got very confused and had a hard time in school.  The doctors in emergency just told me to rest and gave me medicine.  I wish I knew more about concussions and TBI's at the time of the accident on 02/09/2015. 

I don't ever get headaches, but I've had a pounding headache for the past two days, ever since I got elbowed in the eye at cheer. Is this something I should see a doctor about? The physical trainer made me put ice over my eye but this headache is really bothering me and it seems there's nothing I can do for it. My coach told me to not take any headache medicine or any pain relievers, is that advice I should take seriously?

I have all the symptoms of a concussion that I suffered many years ago. All my doctors that treated me  never asked me if I had a concussion that caused the symptoms. I still suffer daily with all the symptoms. Is there anything I can do to help myself live a somewhat normal life? Thank you kindly for your reply.

Should I seek myself medical attention even if it is 3 days after three days out?

Can you get a concussion from heading a soccer ball repeatedly for about 20 minutes?

Can you get dizzy with concussion?

My son suffered a head concussion a year a ago and his memory is not well yet, and is muddy. How long can it last.?

My mother 78 was I a car accident an suffered a serous concussion. The accident was 4 months ago and she still is tired all the time and feels like she has all foggy things in her brain how long does a concussion usually last especially in an elderly person she's had two CT scans both are clear what can we do to help her with this foggy feeling that she has.

How many concussions can a person get before permanent brain damage sets in?

I got hit in the head 2 days ago. I have a a headache neck pain, sensitive to loud noises, and always sleepy. What should I do?

I was snowboarding while wearing a helmet and landed on my neck and hit my head, I don't have ringing in my ears or nausea but my eyes are feeling very tired. I am not sure what it could be

When I go to sleep, I I have to prop myself up with pillows. When I lay straight down my head would be spinning. Is that part of concussion?

I also like to say that it is very important to talk to your doctor ASAP to ask for advice and give you directions to what you are at risk for. I now know things like being in a nursing home not once but multiple times at man in the 40s this is a hard time. i am home now but please let your friends and family members know what you think and know also many states have laws on head injury and tbi and driving. it also important that you know that once you have head injury it increases the risk of developing more problems . It like my dr said you loose 4 points per head injury but gain 2 points .

Hello my name is VeronicaRenee Bondoc & I have had to live with having T.B.I. since March 19, 2006.