You’ve taken a nasty hit to the head or even been jarred during a sports match (without a direct blow to the cranium). While you may have shaken it off and continued, you might be experiencing some lingering symptoms that you can’t quite place weeks down the road.
You may have forgotten about the injury, but your brain hasn’t. The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can take days or even weeks to show up, and can cause a range of problems. In recognition of Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month in September, here are 8 signs of TBI to keep in mind…
1. Mood Swings
If you’re normally a happy-go-lucky sort and start having feelings of sadness that aren’t attached to any emotional event, then there’s a chance it could be related to a TBI. BrainLine.org says a person with a brain injury can have a range of emotional problems, including angry outbursts.
The part of the brain that controls impulses might have been affected by the injury, notes the source. It also notes that while this condition can improve in the first few months following the injury, you may need the help of a psychologist or physician to manage these emotional spikes.
2. Unexplained Headaches
You weren’t drinking the night before, so what’s with this lingering headache that doesn’t seem to go away? Headaches can be a side effect of a TBI (up to 50-percent of patients experience it), and the pain can be non-specific or localized to the area where you sustained the injury, explains the National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury.
Pain can be caused by damage to small nerves in the scalp or musculoskeletal problem (how the muscles and bones interact). However, the source also notes there are several reasons for getting headaches after an injury, and that the severity of the injury isn’t always equal to the severity of the headaches. A physician should examine you for a proper diagnosis.
3. Lack of Concentration
This can occur in several forms, from forgetting how to get to a familiar place to having trouble figuring out things that would have caused you less trouble in the past. Close friends and family may notice the change in you before you do, explains TraumaticBrainInjury.com.
Due to being easily confused, you may experience frustration at your job or have trouble performing simple household tasks, adds the source. These symptoms can occur even with a mild TBI, adds the site.
If you find you have an upset stomach, or running to the bathroom and you can’t think of another reason why you might be ill, then you might be able to trace it back to a TBI. The Mayo Clinic lists nausea and vomiting as symptoms relating to a mild TBI.
The dizziness that can sometimes come with nausea is also a symptom, or you may experience dizziness on its own. If the nausea persists, then you should probably consult a physician to be sure.
Convulsions that can result in a loss of consciousness can be attributed to a moderate to severe TBI, adds the Mayo Clinic. However, there are several possible causes for a seizure, so it’s important to pinpoint the cause.
While many people who suffer a TBI never have a seizure, they usually occur in the days or weeks following the incident (while sometimes it could be months or years). There are medications that can lower the chance of seizures in most cases.
6. Communication Problems
TBIRecoveryCenter.org said that your basic language and communication skills might be affected by a TBI. This can be as simple as forgetting common words, or losing the ability to speak or write in complete sentences.
In other cases, you may be using complete sentences, but what the listener is hearing is “pure gibberish,” notes the source. You might be making up words that seem normal to you, which is known as fluent aphasia. You may not realize this and become frustrated when others can’t understand you.
The same source explains that you may experience a loss of hand-eye coordination, which is important from everything from putting a key in a lock to tying your shoes.
Aside from fine motor skills, you may also find yourself bumping into objects on a more frequent basis, or dropping things or fumbling with them. It’s important to deal with this medically, especially if you operate heavy machinery or drive a car on a regular basis.
8. Vision Problems
Your senses could be affected by a TBI, and often it’s your eyesight that’s the most obvious victim. If you had 20/20 vision before and suddenly find objects are blurry or difficult to recognize, then it may be related to a TBI.
Other vision problems related to TBI include seeing double, or decreased peripheral vision (seeing movement out of the corners of your eyes). Multiple sources also note that you may completely lose vision in one or both eyes in some cases.