When a headache isn't just a headache

Aug 22 2011 - 9:28am

Every day we seem to get injured in some way. When we were young we referred to our bumps and bruises as "boo-boos" and we ran to our mom to kiss them better. We hurt for a while but then we just mostly walked it off.

But what if you hit your head? When would you know if a headache isn't just a headache? What if you got a concussion?

My prom date, in late April, the week of prom, fell and hit his head. Spencer Glade, a recent graduate of Clearfield High, thought at first that it seemed like he just had a headache and didn't remember what happened. But later that night he had a wonderful trip to the E.R. and they found that he had a concussion. For the rest of that week until prom, he required bed rest and couldn't drive; he also had a terrible headache that wouldn't go away because for the first few days, he couldn't take any medication.

Becca Hansen, a recent graduate of Northridge High, also got a concussion. She was swimming and hit her head. This was actually the second concussion Hansen has had and she reports that it was like having the last one come back and having a new one. She missed school and had to go to the doctor. Now even though the thought of missing school may seem appealing, missing days close to the end of your senior year, and sitting at home in pain, is not so good.

How would you know then, if you have a concussion? People hit their heads all the time and are perfectly fine. What is the difference between just a bump that needs an ice pack on and some ibuprofen, or a knock that requires going to the hospital?

Well, the Mayo Clinic's website (www.mayoclinic.com) details the signs and symptoms of a concussion:

* Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head

* Temporary loss of consciousness

* Confusion or feeling as if in a fog

* Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event

* Dizziness or "seeing stars"

* Ringing in the ears

* Nausea or vomiting

* Slurred speech

* Fatigue

Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate; others may be delayed in onset by hours or days after injury:

* Concentration and memory complaints

* Irritability and other personality changes

* Sensitivity to light and noise

* Sleep disturbances

* Psychological adjustment problems and depression

* Disorders of taste and smell

As I have pointed out, having more than one concussion is worse and seems like having them all at the same time. So having a concussion and not treating it or knowing enough about it can be a fatal mistake on your part, as explained by the Mayo Clinic site.

You may be thick-skulled but your brain is just as fragile and just as important as anyone else's. If you have had a head injury and have experienced any of the above symptoms, seek medical attention. This is not something you want to ignore.

And when riding bikes, skateboards, scooters, or other type of devices, make sure you wear a helmet. Be mindful of your head.

Sara Bowker will be a junior this fall at Northridge High School. She enjoys dance, theater and stage crew. E-mail her at happy_girl216@msn.com.

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