Concussions are common accident injuries in the United States, affecting about 3.8 million people annually. While most people recover from concussions after a short period, some may experience persistent symptoms, leading to a condition known as post-concussion syndrome (PCS).
Post-concussion syndrome is a challenging disorder that can affect an individual’s life aspects, including their emotional, physical, and cognitive well-being. Luckily, learning how to identify signs and symptoms of PCS is essential to finding effective treatment promptly.
This article explains the signs and symptoms of post-concussion syndrome.
Sensitivity to Light and Noise
It is common for people suffering from post-concussion syndrome to experience a heightened sensitivity to light and noise.
Sensitivity to light or photophobia can cause discomfort or pain in response to sunlight or flashing lights. Similarly, individuals with sensitivity to noise or hyperacusis often experience discomfort in areas with loud or sudden noises.
If not treated early, photophobia and hyperacusis can result in other long-term concussion symptoms, such as irritability, headaches, and dizziness. The good news is that relaxation techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy can help treat this issue.
Headaches are another common PCS symptom. However, unlike usual headaches, PCS headaches can be severe and debilitating, significantly affecting a person’s quality of life.
While headaches resulting from post-concussion syndrome can occur in any part of the head, they’re most common in the back or front areas and may feel like a pressure or sensation. These headaches can be made worse by mental or physical exertion.
It is essential to note that not all headaches are PCS-related. Therefore, always seek medical attention immediately if you experience severe, persistent headaches, especially after a head injury. Your healthcare provider will help you identify the cause of your headache and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.
A person suffering from post-concussion syndrome may also experience dizziness or vertigo. This condition can make them feel like the world is spinning and may be brief or last for a long time.
Dizziness in PCS patients can be triggered by several activities, such as standing, changing positions, or turning the head too quickly. It may be accompanied by other symptoms, including vomiting, nausea, and difficulty maintaining balance.
In some severe cases, vertigo can cause an individual to feel unsteady when standing, leading to falling accidents. This can be particularly risky for senior adults or people with other underlying medical conditions.
Treatment for dizziness associated with post-concussion syndrome may involve a combination of physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and medications. For example, your physician may advise you to avoid triggers that cause vertigo.
People with PCS may sometimes experience persistent fatigue, even after long hours of sleep. They may feel a lack of energy or motivation to perform daily tasks. Others may find it difficult to concentrate on everyday activities for too long.
The exhaustion resulting from PSC can be linked to various factors, including depression and anxiety, disrupted sleep patterns, and cognitive impairment. In addition, fatigue may be worsened by engaging in vigorous physical activities.
Post-concussion syndrome fatigue can enormously impact a person’s ability to study, work, or engage in social activities. Patients may also struggle to recall vital information from conversations or appointments. So, it is crucial to address PCS-associated fatigue before it affects your quality of life.
Sometimes PCS patients may find it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up early. Others may experience sleep disruptions, such as night sweats and nightmares.
Unfortunately, lack of sleep may affect the patient’s physical and mental health. It may also trigger other symptoms of post-concussion syndrome, including fatigue, generally affecting a person’s well-being.
Sleep disturbances after a head injury may be due to several factors, such as pain, anxiety, changes in brain chemistry, and depression. Environmental factors like noise and light can also contribute to this problem.
A healthcare professional may prescribe you medications to help improve your sleep pattern and alleviate the symptoms of pain, depression, and anxiety.
Reduced Tolerance to Exercise
If you have recently suffered from a concussion, you may find it challenging to engage in exercises. Unfortunately, this is a common issue among PCS patients and can sometimes become difficult to bear, especially if you love working out.
Patients may experience brain fog, extreme fatigue, or dizziness during or after workout sessions. Exercise intolerance can occur due to decreased cardiovascular fitness, muscle weakness, or changes in brain chemistry.
Exercise is necessary to speed up the recovery process among accident victims. Failing to exercise can make you lose muscle strength, worsening your condition.
It is essential to talk to an experienced physiotherapist who can recommend a gradual return to physical activity. This expert will take you through safe, low-intensity activities to help your recovery.
Cognitive problems, such as memory loss, decision-making problems, and difficulty concentrating, are common among people with post-concussion syndrome. Some patients may also experience confusion or disorientation, making it hard to participate in activities requiring long hours of concentration.
Cognitive issues among PCS patients can mainly result from physical damage to the brain during a concussion. The impact of the injury can cause bruising, swelling, or bleeding in the brain.
Other causes of cognitive problems may be psychological distress or sleep disturbances. Sometimes, the medications used to treat post-concussion syndrome can also result in memory loss.
It is not uncommon for post-concussion syndrome patients to experience mood changes characterized by irritability, anxiety, emotional instability, and depression. That may make them become easily annoyed by small things.
In addition, patients may suffer feelings of worry or fear due to their current condition. They may be uncertain about their recovery or the impact of the injury on their life.
If not treated early, fear and anxiety can result in depression, feelings of sadness, and hopelessness. Patients may also begin to lose interest in their favorite activities.
Mood swings can be challenging to manage and may affect a person’s relationships with friends and family members. Fortunately, a behavioral therapist can help you monitor your condition and provide comprehensive care suitable to your situation.
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