Should I Go to the ER for a Concussion?

Head Injuries

Oct 3, 2023


Being one of the most common football injuries (and common sports injuries in general), concussions are, unfortunately, not a rare occurrence around this time of year. With fall sports in full swing, children and adults alike are out on their respective fields having the time of their lives — but when disaster strikes in the form of a head injury, all that fun can be put to a screeching halt.

No matter how you hit your head, if you find yourself wondering “should I go to the ER for a concussion?” The short answer is yes, if you believe that you have a concussion, you should visit your nearest emergency room as soon as possible. It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion so that you can know whether to take a loved one to the ER or have someone ensure that you get medical treatment in a timely manner. 

Why concussions are dangerous and deserve medical attention

Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) that are caused by impact to the brain that causes it to shake back and forth. Doesn’t sound pleasant, right? It’s not. The sudden movement can cause damage to the brain’s cells or vessels in minor cases, but can cause internal bleeding in severe cases — and can even be fatal. Yikes.

How do you know if a concussion is serious?

A concussion is always serious. If you’re still wondering, when is a head injury an emergency, here is a fact. A concussion, no matter how minor, should always be seen as a medical emergency. The reason is that some people may not notice their symptoms until days after the injury, leaving room for more damage to occur to the brain. Another reason is that TBIs can also cause seizures, which, if you have read our article “When a Seizure is a Medical Emergency,” you know can be dangerous if left untreated.

So, if you suspect that you or someone else might have a concussion, seek medical help right away.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion

Due to the severe consequences of even a mild concussion, it’s crucial that you are able to distinguish concussions from other injuries. Symptoms of a concussion can include:

  • Headache
  • Sudden dizziness 
  • Confusion 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Ringing in the ears
  • sensitivity to light and/or noise
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Memory loss or other cognitive difficulties
  • Changes in personality 

Younger children may experience slightly different symptoms including:

  • Loss of balance
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Change in eating habits
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Lack of energy

If any of these symptoms appear after a blow to the head, consider them to be cause for concern and seek medical attention immediately. Whether an injury was sustained during a game of football, caused by a bike fall, or one of many car accident injuries, it is always better to be safe than sorry and have a professional examine the injured person. 

What happens if you don’t go to the ER for a concussion?

When left untreated, a concussion can create a laundry list of problems. On the minor end of the spectrum, if you were to get another concussion, your symptoms could feel more intense. However, on the severe end, ignoring a concussion may put you at risk of developing long-term physical or mental disabilities due to brain damage, or developing a fatal blood clot if not properly diagnosed. 

Is it worth going to the ER for a concussion? YES. Concussions can be life-threatening in some scenarios, so it’s best not to risk any further complications and see a medical professional for treatment.

How will the ER treat concussions?

So, what will the ER do for a concussion? After taking a detailed account of the injury, the doctor will likely use X-rays and CT scans to confirm the diagnosis. From there, a treatment plan will be created based on the unique circumstances of the injury. A majority of concussion patients may just need to be monitored as they rest, giving the brain the time it needs to heal. The doctor will also ask that you refrain from physical activity for a certain amount of time, depending on the severity of the concussion. 

Complete Care offers comprehensive concussion care to all patients

The answer to “Should I go to the ER for a concussion?” is always yes. Concussions are a type of injury that should never be ignored. If you notice that you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of a concussion, head to your nearest emergency room as soon as possible.

Each Complete Care location is a freestanding emergency room that is fully equipped with advanced imaging services to help diagnose concussions and provide treatment options. We have multiple 24/7 ER locations in Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, Lubbock, and San Antonio) and in Colorado Springs. If you are worried about a head injury, you can put your complete trust in us to provide proper and efficient care to you and your family fast.

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