Commonly Overlooked Head Injury Symptoms
Head injuries are among the most life-threatening and devastating injuries one can sustain, yet their symptoms can be difficult to spot and easy to downplay. It is important to be able to recognize more subtle symptoms of a possible head injury to accurately diagnose yourself and others. Noticing these signs early could save a life and prevent a lifetime of future complications.
Even “mild” head injuries can be life-altering. Some symptoms, such as loss of consciousness, repeated vomiting, seizures or an inability to awaken from sleep, are obvious signs. But unlike spinal cord injuries, which have symptoms that are fairly easy to recognize, there are many head injury symptoms that are dismissed, ignored, or simply never even discussed with medical personnel.
The fact is, many people suffering from brain injuries as a result of an accident, injury or altercation may not even realize they are suffering a TBI (traumatic brain injury) because they simply do not understand the symptoms for what they are.
Symptoms of Mild TBI and Concussion
Some mild TBI and concussion symptoms may appear right away, while others may not appear for hours or days after the injury. Symptoms generally improve over time, and most people with a mild TBI or concussion feel better within a couple of weeks.
Symptoms of mild TBI and concussion may affect how you feel, think, act or sleep, but are different for each person. Symptoms may change during recovery. For example, you may have headaches and feel sick to your stomach earlier on. A week or two after your injury, you may notice you feel more emotional than usual or have trouble sleeping. Be sure to take note of symptoms and changes in your symptoms and seek immediate medical care if any are present.
5 Most Overlooked Head Injury Symptoms
1) Whiplash or Neck Pain
While this is fairly common in automobile accidents, many people associate it with the soft tissue damage and not as a symptom of a potential head injury. Whiplash usually sets in hours or even days after the incident or accident. However, brain lesions can follow whiplash in some cases. On its own, whiplash and a sore or stiff neck are not directly indicative of a more serious head injury, but when combined with other symptoms, you should immediately seek medical attention.
2) Sleep or Fatigue Issues
Exhaustion or sleep disorders are among the more common symptoms of brain damage and can be difficult to self-diagnose until they persist for weeks or months. Trouble sleeping, tiredness, and excess fatigue can all be related to brain trauma, especially if these conditions are chronic in nature. Distinguishing whether your symptoms stem from a separate sleep disorder or a head injury can be a challenge, but there are several signs that might indicate something is wrong. They include:
- Sudden difficulty sleeping
- Sleeping significantly more than usual
- Fatigue and dizziness
- Loss of consciousness or awareness for any period of time
- Inability to wake from sleep
- Unexplained irritability
3) Forgetfulness and Other Cognitive Symptoms
As head injuries grow more severe, so too do their symptoms. It may be that it is present from the start and just not really paid attention to until weeks or months after the incident occurred. It may start out simple with forgetting phone numbers or things you have just read, but can progress to forgetting things you have done or even things you are discussing with others in the midst of conversations. Experiencing any type of cognitive disorder after an accident can be a sign of a life-threatening brain injury and should never be taken lightly, especially if symptoms persist.
Common cognitive symptoms of brain damage can include:
- Forgetfulness or trouble concentrating
- Uncharacteristic mood swings
- Sudden, unexplained depression or anxiety
- Profound confusion
- Slurred speech
- An unexplained bitter taste or bad smell
- Ringing in the ears
- Poor object recognition
If you are normally an organized person but suddenly find you are having difficulty with the most basic organizational tasks and activities, you should seek immediate medical attention. Many people suffering from TBI also find multitasking to be quite difficult. Focusing attention on one task can be problematic in its own right and people with brain injuries are often easily distracted from that.
5) Difficulties with Balance
Balance is something most people take for granted. Those with head injuries are likely to experience balance issues, which should be taken extremely seriously. Balance issues present a new risk to those who are already wounded and can result in additional injuries if they fall in the shower, while climbing stairs or while on hard or uneven terrain. If you or someone you know experiences balance issues, they should avoid walking unsupported and seek handrails or other people to help them avoid hurting themselves further while waiting for treatment.
How a Head Injury Can Change Behavior
Head injuries have the capacity to alter behavior, and those changes depend on the severity and number of injuries. Short-term changes include feeling dizzy, confused, and exhausted. An injured person could have a headache, nausea, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, and sensitivity to light and sound.
Most people recover smoothly within a few weeks and show no permanent harm. But even those who recover on a physical level may experience some sort of personality differences that tend to be quite noticeable. People who suffer a TBI may lose the ability to concentrate as intently as they did previously, which may manifest at work, in conversations or in household tasks. Other times, however, patients may lose or gain completely new personality traits.
One of the things that tend to come up is a general disinterest in things that were previously enjoyable or excitable; an athlete may not seem as eager to play their sport anymore, or perhaps an avid reader may not have the motivation to pick up a book. One may become more irritable, angry, or impulsive, or less able to exercise self-control. TBI sufferers may struggle with depression and anxiety, as well as sleep disturbances.
For some, personality changes may become dangerous as they find themselves more inclined toward impulsive behavior. As they may not be able to exercise self-control, patients might not consider the consequences of their actions or even just disregard them altogether. Judgment and decision-making ability may become impaired as well, leading to a number of problematic situations.
Types of Behavior Problems
Common behavior problems experienced by survivors of brain injury include
- Aggression toward others
- Aggression toward self
- Tantrums and crying
- Yelling and cursing
- Explosive anger
- Property destruction
Seek Immediate Emergency Medical Care if You Have Danger Signs
Danger Signs in Adults
In rare cases, a dangerous blood clot that crowds the brain against the skull can develop. The people checking on you should call 9-1-1 or take you to an emergency department right away if you:
- Have a headache that gets worse and does not go away
- Experience weakness, numbness, decreased coordination, convulsions, or seizures
- Vomit repeatedly
- Have slurred speech or unusual behavior
- Have one pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other
- Cannot recognize people or places, get confused, restless, or agitated
- Lose consciousness, look very drowsy or cannot wake up
Danger Signs in Children
Call 9-1-1 or take your child to the emergency department right away if they received a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body, and:
- Have any of the danger signs for adults listed above
- Will not stop crying and are inconsolable
- Will not nurse or eat
Have You Suffered A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
Cases involving traumatic brain injury are very complex and involve a multitude of legal and medical issues. Even the medical profession continues to consider the inner workings of the brain something of a mystery. Often, personal injury litigation law firms lack the resources and technical experience to take on a traumatic brain injury case.
Despite traumatic brain injury prevention, if you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury due to somebody’s negligence, a lawsuit can be filed against the responsible party. An experienced brain injury attorney will ensure you receive adequate compensation for your losses.
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury and have questions about seeking legal action, call us now at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.