How Concussions and Severe Head Trauma Affect the Brain
A concussion is a minor form of traumatic brain injury that can adversely affect the overall health of the brain. While the effects of a concussion are usually temporary in nature, it’s possible for them to persist and cause deterioration in brain health as a person ages. Even though concussions and traumatic brain injuries can occur for a wide range of reasons, they are typically brought about by a blow to the head.
When this trauma occurs, the immune system will react immediately, which will result in inflammation surrounding the affected areas. The portions of the brain that have been affected by the concussion will suffer from a short breakdown of some of the structures within the cells. While these structures are shut down, the cells won’t receive the oxygen they require for normal functions, which is why affected individuals will experience an array of symptoms.
When these cells are damaged, attempting to do something that’s controlled by these cells will likely result in failure. For instance, the affected individual may be unable to balance properly. While separate neural pathways in the brain will be used to help the individual complete these tasks, they will be less efficient. Over time, the injury will likely heal, which means that the cells and neural pathways can resume their standard functions. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. There are times when some of the cells and structures surrounding them don’t heal properly, which can result in persistent symptoms.
Upon experiencing concussions or traumatic brain injuries multiple times, a person’s chances of developing long-term symptoms will invariably increase. While the long-term effects and symptoms of brain injuries can be frustrating to deal with, there are steps that the affected individual can take to reduce the symptoms and lead a normal life.
Primary Symptoms of Brain Injuries
When suffering from a concussion or minor traumatic brain injury, there are some basic symptoms that a person should expect to go through while healing from the injury. Keep in mind that more severe traumatic brain injuries may result in more damaging symptoms that require immediate medical attention. The most common symptoms pertaining to brain injuries can be separated into four categories of cognitive-related symptoms, mood-related symptoms, blood-pressure symptoms, and sensory-related symptoms.
The standard cognitive-related symptoms that a person may experience following a concussion include:
- Problems with memory
- Brain fog
- Issues with concentrating
- Difficulties with reading
- Problems with finding items
- Being easily distracted
As for mood-related symptoms, some of the more notable effects following a concussion include:
- Consistently low energy
Concussions and minor traumatic brain injuries can cause a wide range of problems with blood pressure, which extend to:
- Heightened sensitivity to noise and light
- Pressure in your head
- Neck pain
- Difficulties with sleeping
- Tired eyes
Concussions can also adversely affect a person’s senses and cause such symptoms as:
- Ringing ears, which is also referred to as tinnitus
- Blurred vision
- Changes in smell or taste
- Car sickness
Long-Term Health Effects to Look Out For
There are also some long-term health effects that an individual can experience if their concussion is severe or if they have gone through multiple brain injuries in the past. When an individual is still suffering from symptoms after more than six weeks have passed since the injury, it’s likely that they are affected by a post-concussive syndrome. This syndrome occurs in around 20 percent of people who experience a concussion. The many long-term health effects that can occur following a concussion extend to:
- Issues with concentration
- Memory problems
- Disorders with taste and smell
- Depression, irritability, and lasting behavioral changes
- Various psychological problems that persist
While many of these same symptoms occur on a short-term basis with concussions, it’s possible that they will persist, which can be difficult to manage. The long-term effects like depression and memory problems can also heighten the risk of suicide. It’s important to understand that the effects of multiple concussions or minor traumatic brain injuries aren’t always worse than the effects of a single concussion. Everyone will experience a concussion differently.