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    How is a concussion diagnosed?

    Any person who may have had a concussion needs to see a doctor. If a doctor thinks that you have a concussion, he or she will ask questions about the injury. Your doctor may ask you questions that test your ability to pay attention and your learning and memory. Your doctor may also try to find out how quickly you can solve problems. He or she may also show you objects and then hide them and ask you to recall what they are. Then the doctor will check your strength, balance, coordination, reflexes, and sensation.

    Neuropsychological tests have become more widely used after a concussion. These tests are only one of many ways that your doctor can find out how well you are thinking and remembering after a concussion. These tests can also show if you have any changes in emotions or mood after a concussion.

    Sometimes a doctor will order imaging tests such as a CT scan or an MRI to make sure your brain is not bruised or bleeding.

    How is it treated?

    Right away

    After being seen by a doctor, some people have to stay in the hospital to be watched. Others can go home safely. People who go home still need to be watched closely for warning signs or changes in behavior.

    Call 911 or seek emergency care right away if you are watching a person after a concussion and the person has:

    • A headache that gets worse or does not go away.
    • Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination.
    • Repeated vomiting or nausea.
    • Slurred speech.
    • Extreme drowsiness or you cannot wake them.
    • One pupil that is larger than the other.
    • Convulsions or seizures.
    • A problem recognizing people or places.
    • Increasing confusion, restlessness, or agitation.
    • Loss of consciousness.

    Warning signs in children are the same as those listed above for adults. Take your child to the emergency department if he or she has any of the warnings signs listed above or:

    • Will not stop crying.
    • Will not nurse or eat.

    In the days or weeks after

    Some people feel normal again in a few hours. Others have symptoms for weeks or months. It is very important to allow yourself time to get better and to slowly return to your regular activities. If your symptoms come back when you are doing an activity, stop and rest for a day. This is a sign that you are pushing yourself too hard. It is also important to call your doctor if you are not improving as expected or if you think that you are getting worse instead of better.

    Rest is the best way to recover from a concussion. You need to rest your body and your brain. Here are some tips to help you get better:

    • Get plenty of sleep at night, and take it easy during the day.
    • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs.
    • Do not take any other medicines unless your doctor says it is okay.
    • Avoid activities that are physically or mentally demanding (including housework, exercise, schoolwork, video games, text messaging, or using the computer). You may need to change your school or work schedule while you recover.
    • Ask your doctor when it's okay for you to drive a car, ride a bike, or operate machinery.
    • Use ice or a cold pack on any swelling for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
    • Use pain medicine as directed. Your doctor may give you a prescription for pain medicine or recommend you use a pain medicine that you can buy without a prescription, such as acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol).
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