10 Subtle Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury results from taking a hard blow to the head or body. Another source of traumatic brain injury is an object directly penetrating the brain tissue like a bullet. Any kind of brain injury, even mild ones, can affect your brain.
Mild traumatic brain injury may cause temporary injury to your brain cells. However, serious brain injuries can create long-term damage or death to the patient. Serious brain injuries may involve bruising, bleeding, and torn tissues.
The symptoms of traumatic brain injury can appear immediately right after an incident, and some appear days or weeks later. The symptoms can also be very subtle and not out of the ordinary. Nevertheless, you must be aware and knowledgeable of them, especially if you have just come out of an accident. You may experience some of the following physical, sensory, and mental symptoms.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
- Loss of consciousness
Mild traumatic brain injuries can at times cause loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes. Even a very short loss of consciousness can be a sign that there’s damage to the brain. Sometimes, you may not be aware that you’ve been falling in and out of consciousness, so it’s advisable to have someone by your side for the first 24 hours after the injury to watch out for such symptom and call for medical help.
- Disorientation and confusion
A DUI caused brain injury can result in disorientation and confusion without loss of consciousness. For example, the next day after coming out of an accident, you tried to go to the park, but suddenly you can’t find your way to the park or you don’t know where you are. Another example is when you’re talking to someone and you just can’t keep your focus or you can’t fully comprehend what the other person is saying. These are signs that warrant a visit to the doctor.
- Headaches, nausea, or vomiting
Occasional headaches after an accident, especially one involving the head, may be a sign of traumatic injury. Also, neurological effects aren’t the only thing you should watch out for as brain injury can also cause nausea and vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are also ways of your body to tell you that your brain may have been affected by the accident.
- Problems with speech
Stuttering, if you typically don’t experience this, is also a sign that you may have a mild traumatic brain injury – that a part of your brain relating to the speech was damaged. Problems with speech also include difficulties speaking coherently to others.
- Sleep patterns
Any unusual changes to sleeping patterns can be an indication of traumatic brain injury even though these may not be noticeable at first. An example is if you suddenly experience insomnia. Sleeping more than usual can also be a sign that you have a brain injury.
- Sensory problems
Mild brain injury can also affect your sensory abilities as much as your physical and mental abilities. Some sensory problems that indicate mild traumatic brain injury are blurred vision, ringing in the ears, having a bad taste in the mouth, and changes in the sense of smell. When you feel a little more sensitive to light or sound than usual, you should also have that checked out as it can be a symptom of mild traumatic brain injury.
- Mood swings
Mild traumatic brain injury can result in some impairment in cognitive functions. The injury can also have some neurological effects, such as unusual mood swings. Simple signs of mood swings can be getting mad at the littlest things that you aren’t usually mad about. Surprisingly, depression and anxiety can result from having a mild traumatic brain injury as well even though it might not be too obvious.
- Memory problems
Some symptoms include trouble in remembering things or concentrating. Your inability to remember the events before the injury immediately or up to 24 hours after the incident can be indicative of memory problems coming from a brain injury. If you also have difficulty recalling new information, it can be a sign that part of your brain was affected by the accident.
Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
- Aggravated physical impairment
For moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries, symptoms may appear right after or a few days after the injury. Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries usually present similar symptoms as mild traumatic brain injuries but in a more serious and long-lasting form, including the following:
- Loss of consciousness for a longer time, such as an hour or more
- Worsening or lingering headaches
- Repeated nausea and vomiting
- Seizures and convulsions
- Dilation in both or one of the pupils in the eyes
- Clear fluids coming out of the ears or nose
- Inability to wake up sleep
- Weakness or numbness in the fingers and toes
- No longer disoriented, but body coordination is lost
- Unusual mental problems
In moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, your mental state can be affected, causing profound confusion. This includes difficulty paying attention, organizing your thoughts, planning tasks and activities, and making choices and sound judgment. Agitation and combativeness are also signs that you may have severe traumatic brain injury. Slurring speech also indicates moderate to severe traumatic brain injury.
If you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, you must quickly seek emergency medical care. Even though these symptoms can be subtle, they may indicate some serious damage to your brain. Whether it is mild, moderate, or severe, any injury to the brain is serious and requires immediate attention, accurate diagnosis, and treatment and medication. What’s more important is that you don’t wait for the symptoms to start appearing before you go to your doctor after an accident. Once you take a violent blow to the head or experience any accident hurting your body, get your brain checked immediately to avoid any long-term effects of a serious head injury.