Head Concussion Symptoms

The brain is a relatively soft organ, with about the consistency of tofu. The skull and cerebrospinal fluid act as shock absorbers against the bumping and shaking that occur with daily life. A blow to the head can overwhelm this protection. Jostling of the brain within the skull causes a mild brain injury called a concussion. Concussion can cause physical symptoms and neurological symptoms related to thinking, emotions and sleep. Concussions resolve without permanent damage or long-term effects. Recovery time typically ranges from a day to 4 weeks, depending on the severity of the concussion.


Headache is the norm with a concussion. The headache may be constant for a time, which is typical with concussion. Increased sensitivity to loud noise and bright lights may accompany the headache. Over-the-counter pain relievers can ease this symptom.

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting may occur shortly after the injury and then quickly abate. Persistent or repeated vomiting may indicate a more serious brain injury.

Dizziness and Balance Problems

Concussion often causes dizziness or lightheadedness without fainting. A vague sense of impaired balance may cause clumsiness or incoordination.

Visual Disturbances

Concussion may cause temporary visual blurring. People with concussion may have difficulty keeping their eyes focused on something for a prolonged period. They often complain of tired eyes, typically avoiding activities such as reading and close work.


Irritability and anxiousness are common with a concussion. Increased nervousness may also occur. These symptoms typically wane with time. Increasing irritability may be a sign of more serious brain injury, especially in young children.

Emotional Lability

People who have sustained a concussion may be emotionally labile for a time. This can manifest as moodiness or unprovoked sadness. Others may comment that the person with the concussion seems exceptionally emotional.

Dulled Thinking Processes

A concussion can temporarily cloud thinking. People often complain of feeling mentally foggy or slow. They may have trouble concentrating when faced with complex tasks and struggle to keep their attention focused.

Transient Memory Problems

A concussion may cause confusion or memory loss about events immediately preceding or just after the head trauma. Although these memories may remain foggy, the capacity for memory is not permanently affected.

Sleep Changes

Concussion may cause temporary changes in sleep patterns. People may find themselves sleeping more or less than they usually do. There may be an abnormally long interval before being able to fall asleep.

About this Author

Tina Andrews has been a medical writer and editor since 2000. She has published in “Cancer,” “Ethnicity & Disease,” and “Liver Health Today,” and was formerly a medical officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Andrews holds a Doctor of Medicine degree and a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry.