6 Warning Signs of a Concussion

Apr 10, 2023
6 Warning Signs of a Concussion
Since concussions trigger chemical changes in the brain and can damage brain cells and nerves, it’s important to seek medical attention for even mild head injuries. Here’s a look at some warning signs of a concussion.

When your child sustains a forceful impact to their head, or if their body moves in a way that causes their brain to hit their skull, they can experience a concussion. This mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) can trigger noticeable symptoms. However, these symptoms could take a few days to appear, and in some cases, even weeks. 

Concussions cause chemical changes in the brain and may damage the nerves and cells of the brain. As a result, this mTBI can affect your child’s brain function, making everyday tasks and activities difficult or dangerous. 

For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics stresses the importance of calling your child’s pediatrician after any head injury. Even if your child has only mild symptoms, or if their symptoms are delayed, their brain is still at risk of damage.  


At The Center for Advanced Pediatrics in Darien and Norwalk, Connecticut, our pediatricians have the expertise and experience needed to diagnose, manage, and treat concussions. Here’s a look at six warning signs that your child may have a concussion. 

1. Your child feels “foggy”

When your child’s brain is concussed, the areas responsible for interpreting movement can get disrupted or confused. This can lead to feelings of dissociation, detachment, or fogginess. Some kids describe this as feeling like they’re moving underwater or through waves of dizziness. 

2. Your child seems forgetful

Does your child lose their place when you talk to them or struggle to remember what happened during class? This could be the sign of a concussion. If you notice your child repeats themselves or takes longer to respond than usual, call your provider at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics for an evaluation.  

3. Your child acts emotional or anxious

If you notice changes in your child’s usual mood or personality, this could be a warning sign of a concussion. For many children, this type of change looks like overly emotional or anxious behaviors. If you try asking your child what’s wrong and they can’t explain, it could be a sign of a concussion. 

4. Your child complains about sounds and light

If your child complains about sounds or light in the hours or days after their head injury, it could be a sign they have a concussion. Concussions affect the brain’s ability to interpret normal stimuli, like the radio, TV, their siblings playing, or overhead lights. This can make them especially sensitive to things that normally wouldn’t irritate or bother them.  

5. Your child says their head feels “full”

You probably expect your child to complain about a headache after a head injury. While a headache can be a sign of a concussion, many children describe feelings of fullness, heaviness, or pressure in their head when they have a concussion. 

6. Your child feels nauseous or vomits

Concussions not only affect the brain’s ability to function, but they can impair other systems in your child’s body as well. For example, a head injury could affect the way the autonomic nervous system (ANS), vestibular system (responsible for balance), and visual systems function. If any of these systems are affected by your child’s concussion, they might experience nausea or vomiting.      

Customized concussion treatment for your child

Your child’s provider at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics can give your child an onsite concussion evaluation. This includes an assessment of their condition. Most of the time, we don’t need to expose your child to imaging studies, like MRIs, to make a diagnosis. 

If a test like this is necessary for your child’s care, we’ll let you know. But most of the time, our team uses your child’s symptoms and a comprehensive injury history to determine whether or not they have a concussion. 

Your provider then creates a personalized concussion treatment plan, taking your child’s unique needs into account. Learn more by scheduling an appointment online or at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics nearest you.