The Link Between Concussions and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
I’ve had over 15 concussions in my lifetime! Some were mild and some were severe, but they all contributed to my Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
My first concussion happened when I got kicked in the head by a horse at age 9.
I lost consciousness. My head bled badly.
But when I was taken to the ER, an x-ray of my skull showed no skull fractures. So, I was just stitched up and sent home.
I didn’t get X-rays of my neck or spine to look for damage there.
And I was never diagnosed with or treated for a concussion.
In fact, I was in my 20s when I was first told I’d had a traumatic brain injury during my childhood.
And it was only 2 years ago that I found out I had cerebellum damage and ligament damage from that accident.
Here’s why I want to share this with you.
If you get a concussion or have structural damage to your body, it’s important to start addressing it right away.
Among other health concerns, concussions, and structural damage can both contribute to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
Today, concussions are more talked about.
But there are still a lot of misunderstandings.
For example, did you know that you don’t need to sustain a violent blow to the head to get a concussion?
Keep reading to learn more about that.
You’ll also learn more on:
- What a concussion is
- Common symptoms of a concussion
- Effects of concussions
- Why concussions can be a major problem in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)
- The relationship between concussions, structural issues, and MCAS
- Supplements to support yourself if you have a concussion and MCAS
- Tips for recovering from a concussion faster
Let’s jump right in.
Have You Had a Concussion?
Pop Quiz! Which of these are symptoms of a concussion?
- Brain Fog
Did you say all 6? If so, you are correct!
But even though people may experience some or all these symptoms after a head injury, they may not think that they have a concussion.
It’s a common misconception that you need to sustain a severe and violent blow to the head to get a concussion.
For example, some people tend to associate concussions only with contact sports like football, boxing, or snowboarding.
Or you may even think that concussions can only happen as a result of extreme accidents like falling off a ladder or being in a severe car accident.
But concussions can happen even without direct contact to your head!
Very importantly, you want to start addressing your concussion as soon as possible.
I’ll share some of my top tips with you later, including my favorite supplements for supporting brain health and recovery.
But first, look more at what can cause a concussion.
How Can You Get a Concussion?
A concussion is caused when the head and brain move rapidly back and forth.
Concussions can occur from direct trauma to the head. But you can also get concussions without direct contact to the head.
For example, with whiplash your head is jarred back and forth quickly. That can cause a concussion.
And the amount of force needed for this kind of brain injury is surprisingly minimal, according to one article from The University of Queensland.
You can get concussions from:
- Falling (even if you don’t hit your head)
- A direct blow to the head (either high impact or mild)
- Being in an accident (like a motor vehicle accident)
- Blast injuries
Those are just a few broad examples.
To understand more about concussions, next let’s look further at just what a concussion is.
What Is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type of head injury known as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) which affects brain function.
With a concussion, the brain can move in the skull. This creates chemical changes in the brain as well as damage to brain cells. Both of which can affect brain function.
NOTE: If you have EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) or ligament damage, you may be more prone to concussions because your neck can’t stabilize your head properly.
You may hear the terms concussion and TBI used interchangeably. However, there are some differences.
Clear diagnostic criteria and definitions are being refined even today. But it seems that the current view of the differences is this.
Concussions and Other Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
Like you just read, a concussion is a type of TBI.
It’s categorized as a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).
TBIs are categorized by how severe they are and what symptoms are present.
Concussions fall under this category of MTBI because most concussions are not life-threatening.
However, concussions are still a reason for serious concern. And they can cause a lot of issues.
Symptoms of a concussion can be immediate. Or they may show up gradually over time.
With a concussion, you may or may not lose consciousness.
That’s 1 of the biggest misconceptions about concussions I hear.
So, I really want to emphasize that you don’t have to lose consciousness to get a concussion.
The World Health Organization suspects that there are tens of millions of concussions each year.
The exact number is hard to pin down, because most of what is reported are sports-related concussions. And data collected from emergency room visits.
That doesn’t account for the concussions where people don’t see a health care professional.
Again, a concussion is considered a mild traumatic brain injury.
There are other categories of TBI, too. Moderate and severe.
And it is possible to have moderate or severe TBIs without a concussion.
Let’s look more at that next.
Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries
When I got kicked in the head by the horse, I had both a concussion and a moderate to severe TBI.
Moderate to severe TBIs can be caused by an impact to the head, just like a concussion can be. That’s why you may see both together. Like what happened to me.
However, with moderate to severe TBIs, you may not have the rapid back and forth movement of the brain that characterizes a concussion.
You could get a TBI from a penetrating injury alone.
A penetrating injury is where a foreign object enters the brain. It can also happen when bone from a skull fracture enters the brain.
So, if you just have a penetrating injury, you may not have a concussion.
In most instances, you will lose consciousness with a moderate to severe TBI. When I got kicked in the head by the horse, I lost consciousness for somewhere between 20-30 minutes.
Now that you know more about what a concussion is, read more about the symptoms of concussions next.
What Are Concussion Symptoms?
There are some differences in the symptoms of concussions and TBIs.
The signs and symptoms of concussion typically fall into four categories.
These are common symptoms of concussions:
- Sensitivities to light and sound
- Migraines/ headaches
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Lack of energy/ feeling tired
- Nausea or vomiting
- Vision problems like blurry vision
Cognitive (thinking/ memory)
- Concentration issues
- Confusion or disorientation
- Memory problems like brain fog, amnesia, memory loss
- Irritability/ quick to anger
- More emotional
- Sadness/ crying spells
- Behavioral or personality changes
- Less sleep than usual
- More sleep than usual
- Trouble falling asleep
You don’t have to have all these signs of concussion. But you will likely have 1 or more symptoms from 1 or more of the categories above.
You might experience any of the concussion symptoms above with moderate to severe TBIs, too.
In addition to those symptoms, if you have a moderate to severe TBI you may also experience:
- Loss of consciousness
It is possible to experience loss of consciousness and seizures with a concussion as well. However, it is much more common in moderate to severe TBIs.
Even more specific to TBIs are symptoms like:
- Fluid draining from the ears or nose
- Loss of sensation in the fingers and toes
- Dilated pupils
- Slurred speech or incomprehensible speech
You can see why it’s so important to talk to your health care provider right away if you have a head injury.
And it’s extremely important to heed their advice. From supplements to rest and recovery, a good protocol can help you recover quicker.
And you want to recover as quickly as possible! Of course, you want to get back to living your life.
But it’s also important to heal quickly because once you’ve had 1 concussion, you’re more likely to get another 1. Especially if you aren’t fully healed.
Further, concussions can be a major contributor to mast cell activation. You’ll learn more about the connections between MCAS and concussions in just a bit.
But first, why are you more likely to get a second concussion?
Why Are You More Likely to Get a Second Concussion?
Some doctors say you increase your risk for a second concussion up to 3x after you’ve had an initial concussion!
There are a few reasons repeated concussions may occur.
Let’s look further into that next.
How Symptoms of a Concussion Can Contribute to a Second Concussion
You read about concussion symptoms like slower reaction times, dizziness, lack of balance, brain fog, and blurry vision.
It isn’t hard to see that any of those symptoms could increase your risk of another fall or running into something.
In my case, I had a concussion from a serious car accident.
My symptoms lasted for 9 months. Then, as I was improving, I bumped my head on the kitchen cabinet door and got another concussion.
I started having headaches, fatigue, and worse brain fog. These new symptoms lasted for 2 weeks.
A second concussion could happen at any time if you haven’t healed completely after the first.
This is thought to be because the brain is weakened and less able to withstand additional trauma.
And second concussions can occur with surprisingly mild impact because the brain is still healing.
Changes in brain chemistry can also make you more prone to a second concussion.
How Brain Chemistry Changes After a Concussion
The cells in your brain start firing when you have a concussion. And they release different neurotransmitters when they fire.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that tell cells and other parts of your body what to do.
Your neurotransmitters work all the time to keep your body functioning. You might be familiar with 1 neurotransmitter, histamine.
Related Article: What Is Histamine Intolerance?
When you have a concussion, some neurotransmitters like glutamate and histamine go into overdrive.
This “overdrive” is meant to help you get through the immediate threat to your body.
But dealing with this immediate threat (your head injury) on a chemical level uses a lot of energy.
Your body can go into what David Hovda, director of the Brain Injury Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, calls an “energy crisis”.
This is a huge simplification, but basically, all your energy is being used on that initial injury. And if you get another injury when your energy reserves are low, you just don’t have the means to deal with the new threat.
I think of the phrase, “being kicked when you’re down.” You become much more vulnerable to a second concussion if you are already hurt.
Now, you may hear the term Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) in relation to repeated concussions. What is Second Impact Syndrome?
Second Impact Syndrome
Second Impact Syndrome can happen when someone with a concussion sustains a second brain injury before completely recovering from the initial concussion.
This can be very serious and result in brain swelling, major disability, or even death.
But not everyone who gets a second concussion will end up getting Second Impact Syndrome. That’s important to know.
SIS happens most often in athletes.
Even if you don’t have the very serious SIS, a second concussion can really set you back. Second concussions often take longer to recover from.
But even 1 concussion is reason for concern.
And here’s why you may need to be extra concerned about concussions if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS).
Concussions and MCAS
I eventually found out that my first concussion, which happened at age 9, turned out to be a major contributor to my MCAS issues.
You can have more than 1 root cause of MCAS.
Injuries are major contributors to MCAS. Especially if not addressed properly.
Here’s how a TBI or concussion can contribute to MCAS.
Traumatic Brain Injuries and Mast Cells
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), including concussions, can cause several problems.
You read about many of the symptoms that can result from MTBIs (mild traumatic brain injuries) like concussions earlier.
Additionally, TBI can cause:
- Mast cell activation
- Increased blood-brain barrier permeability
Related Article: Mast Cell Activation Syndrome 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Healing
Let’s look more at the blood-brain barrier and inflammation next.
What Is the Blood-Brain Barrier?
Concussions are an injury.
And mast cells respond to illness and injury.
When you get a concussion, mast cells migrate in high numbers to the brain to support healing. This increase in mast cell numbers and activation can last for days.
That’s not good if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, and your mast cells are already overreactive.
Additionally, this increase in mast cell activation can cause a leaky blood-brain barrier.
The blood brain barrier is a layer of cells that acts as a protective barrier to your brain. In a nutshell, it keeps bad stuff like toxins out.
A leaky blood-brain barrier occurs when this protective barrier doesn’t work like it should.
When this happens, harmful toxins can leak in and can cause further damage to the brain.
And all of this can lead to inflammation.
Read more about that next.
Inflammation and Your Brain
One of the problems with inflammation is that it can become part of a cascading cycle. In other words, inflammation can lead to more inflammation.
And here’s what worries me more about chronic inflammation of the brain.
Chronic brain inflammation can lead to some undesirable long-term effects.
Inflammation from repeated concussions increases your risk for neurodegenerative diseases like Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
I’m paying attention to supporting my brain health since I’ve had so many concussions.
I’ll tell you what I’m doing to support my brain in just a bit.
But first, there’s 1 other issue that can happen as a result of concussions. And it can affect your MCAS, too.
Could you have structural damage?
Structural Issues and MCAS
When I got kicked in the head by the horse, I had damage to the ligaments in my neck.
And it went unaddressed for decades.
See, even with structural damage like that, I was never completely debilitated from that injury. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t affected. I just didn’t know how it was affecting me.
So, I could still walk and do yoga and engage in other physical activities when I was younger.
But I had constant, gritting pain.
I didn’t realize how damaged the ligaments were or even that I had damaged ligaments! So, I kept pushing through the pain.
Then after a car accident, I became debilitated. I couldn’t carry anything over 1 pound.
And I could only drive for very short distances.
I couldn’t even do my own grocery shopping anymore.
I had frequent misalignments of the vertebrae in my neck. This is often called cervical subluxation.
This is a cervical misalignment where vertebrae slip because the ligaments are damaged and unable to keep them in alignment.
That misalignment can put pressure on the vagus nerve which can trigger nervous system dysregulation.
And nervous system dysregulation keeps mast cells activated because they are continually receiving “danger” signals from the nervous system.
One more thing about structural damage and MCAS…
My colleague, Heather Sandison, ND, and I were talking about brain health recently.
She brought up some good points about structural damage.
Structural damage from a concussion can affect how much oxygen gets to your brain. And did you know that low oxygen is a root cause of MCAS?
So, you’ve just read a lot about how concussions can adversely affect your health.
But there is a lot you can do to support your health if you get a concussion!
What Can You Do if You Get a Concussion?
It’s important you know that this blog post is for informational and educational purposes. It’s not meant to treat any health condition or to be prescriptive for anyone. If you have any medical condition, it is critical you work under the care and guidance of a licensed medical provider.
Concussions are serious. But most people can recover from concussions if they address them promptly and with great care.
One of the reasons my childhood concussion was such a problem was because I didn’t start a concussion and brain support protocol right away.
You don’t want to take a minimalist approach when it comes to concussions. And it isn’t a time to “push through”.
Let’s start by looking at a gentle supplement protocol.
Then you’ll read more about:
- The importance of rest and sleep
- Tips for reducing your toxic load and inflammation
- Considering a neurological chiropractor
But first, read more about some of the best supplements to support yourself if you get a concussion.
These supplements can help with brain health anytime, too!
Many are also mast cell supporting. So even if you’ve never had a concussion, or never will, these supplements can help support you!
Supplemental Protocol for Concussions
For any head injury, make sure you get the proper medical support you need.
Always make sure you aren’t dealing with something serious that may require medical attention.
But you can also consider supporting your brain health and recovery with natural supplements.
Here’s a support protocol I’ve used for myself as well as in the Mast Cell 360 clinic for clients who have experienced concussions.
You’ll need to evaluate if these are right for you. And again, I always suggest speaking with your health care provider, especially when potentially serious brain injury is involved.
And if you do decide to onboard any of these supplements, listening to your body is key.
If you have a lot of sensitivities, it’s ok to start with just a sprinkle and build over time.
However, some people are surprised that when they have an injury, like a concussion, they can tolerate supplements more than usual. That might be because the mast cells are attending to healing and not focused as much on sensing new things.
The key is to listen to your body.
Here are some of the best supplements I’ve found for a concussion supplement protocol.
Even if you don’t have a concussion, keep reading. All these supplements also support the mast cells.
What are SPMs? The SPM in SPM Active stands for Specialized Pro-resolving Mediators. Your body makes them as a response to any damaged tissue.
Omega 3 fats get converted to SPMs in the body—it’s like the active form. This conversion can become impaired, though. That’s why SPMs can be very helpful.
Omega 3s are important for brain health. Increasing long-chain omega-3s in the brain may reduce inflammatory cytokines, which may improve neurotransmitter function.
With a concussion, you’ll have increased inflammation in the brain from increased mast cell degranulation. You read about that earlier.
Reducing inflammation may help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with brain inflammation due to concussion.
NOTE: Even though this has fish oil, the conversion to SPMs seems to make it lower histamine than fish oil. However, it may not be right for those with extreme Histamine Intolerance.
If you aren’t sure, start very slowly.
One suggested usage is to take as tolerated up to 2 caps, 3x/day.
You can also get 15% off anything at Fullscript anytime when you register with my links. If you don’t have an account already, it’s free and you just enter your email address to sign up. It never costs you any more, but your Fullscript purchase helps support Mast Cell 360 free online resources.
Curcumin has strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antimicrobial activities.
Recently, there is growing attention on usage of curcumin to prevent or delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.
And curcumin is mast cell stabilizing.
One suggested usage it to take as tolerated 1000mg, 2x/day.
NOTE: Turmeric is high oxalate, but curcumin extract is low oxalate.
Baicalin has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. It also has mast cell supporting properties.
Further, studies are now looking into how baicalin may be helping to repair damaged neurons in the brain.
One suggested usage is to take as tolerated 250mg, 2x/day.
Transresveratrol is a more absorbable form of resveratrol. Resveratrol naturally is found in over 70 types of plants. Plants use resveratrol to protect themselves from bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
For humans, resveratrol has been shown to have several health benefits.
This compound has been shown to demonstrate activity against:
- Oxidative stress
And remember earlier when you read that concussions can lead to more mast cell degranulation?
Resveratrol has been shown to help reduce mast cell degranulation.
It also supports cellular debris clean up. This process is called autophagy.
Think of the process of autophagy kind of like getting rid of the junk files in your computer so it can function better.
One suggested use is 500mg, 2x/day, as tolerated.
If that’s out of stock, you can also use this Resveratrol.
Tributyrin-X is a form of butyrate, a short chain fatty acid (SCFA). This can help with good gut health.
But researchers are also looking into how SCFAs might directly influence the brain.
- Reinforce the blood-brain barrier integrity (keeping toxins out of the brain)
- Modulate neurotransmission (reduce the release of chemicals from mast cells, including inflammatory mediators)
- Promote memory consolidation
One suggested usage is to take as tolerated 1-3 capsules, 2x/day. If you’re dealing with constipation, only 1 every other day or every 3rd day.
This supplement is low salicylate.
This form of magnesium can cross the blood brain barrier. That makes this form of magnesium good for any brain condition. Including concussions.
It’s 1 of my go-to supplements to support brain health. It does a lot for brain health!
Related Article: Mast Cell and Histamine Safe Forms of Magnesium
Studies have shown the sooner magnesium is started after a brain injury the better the effects.
Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter. But too much glutamate can trigger anxiety, insomnia, and even psychosis.
And too much glutamate is a major cause of neurodegeneration and brain cell death.
Glutamate rises significantly in brain injury. Magnesium inhibits glutamate. So, it helps by keeping your glutamate levels down.
Another way magnesium helps with brain health is that it increases blood flow to the brain to help in healing.
Did you know? Magnesium has been shown to protect against neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s.
Magnesium can also support you if you have a concussion because the brain needs magnesium to resolve inflammation.
Magnesium can also help with sleep issues and occasional anxiety. And you’ll read about this coming up…REST IS CRITICAL for healing from a concussion.
And here’s something you’ll want to know about Magnesium L-Threonate. This form doesn’t affect the bowels like other forms of magnesium sometimes can. It’s less likely to cause loose stools.
I take this Magnesium L-Threonate daily, and I always keep extra on hand.
This supplement is low salicylate.
I’ve taken up to 3 caps, 2x/day on an empty stomach.
CBD has been shown to modulate glial cells.
Glial cells are essential for every aspect of neuronal development, synapse formation, and function in the central nervous system.
But they can be inflammatory.
Inflammation can be an important part of healing, but too much inflammation can be detrimental, as you read about earlier.
In vitro studies have indicated that CBD modulates the activation of proinflammatory pathways and the reproductive rate of glial cells.
When choosing CBD, you’ll see that many come in gummy form. Those can have unwanted extras like artificial colors, flavors, or added sugars. Look for ones without those additives.
I like Charlotte’s Web CBD that comes in olive oil with no other additives.
There is increasing evidence that suggests vitamin D may help in maintaining cognitive function.
And vitamin D has been shown to:
- Stabilize mast cells
- Regulate the immune system
- Have anti-inflammatory properties
Vitamin D has been shown to lessen the inflammatory response that occurs after TBI (traumatic brain injury).
This D3/K2 supplement is low salicylate.
Vitamin E has been shown to help with better cognitive performance. And it’s an antioxidant that protects cells from damage.
It’s also been shown to inhibit histamine release from activated mast cells.
This Vitamin E supplement is low salicylate.
Mirica PEA is a form of palmitoylethanolamide.
In addition to supporting brain health, this has been shown to have mast cell stabilizing properties.
It’s been shown to provide therapeutic benefits in such areas as:
- Brain health
- Pain modulation
- Sleep and recovery
Phosphatidylserine is another supplement that crosses the blood-brain barrier. It has been shown to safely slow and reverse structural deterioration in nerve cells.
And it supports human cognitive functions, including those associated with memory, problem solving, and information recall.
These are all functions that can be affected by concussions.
It also supports locomotor functions such as rapid reactions and reflexes.
Next, let’s look further into the importance of rest and sleep.
Rest and Sleep
I got 1 of my 15+ concussions after a car accident.
I followed a concussion protocol to the letter…except for the part about getting more rest.
I tried to push through.
My symptoms got progressively worse.
And they went on for months.
I noticed a big difference when I was in a different car accident and started the same protocol immediately and got enough rest. I felt much better sooner.
The Difference I Saw…
With the second accident, I went home, and I went straight to bed.
I slept for 12 – 16 hours a day. I didn’t read books. I didn’t talk on the phone. I didn’t scroll through social media.
After my last concussion, I did nothing taxing whatsoever.
This was much different than what I’d done in the past.
In the past, I tried to carry on with work or school and household chores.
And when I tried to push through, I took months to heal.
So, how much of a difference did it make when I got good rest and sleep?
Rest, along with following the supplement protocol saw me fully recovered by day 3!
What a difference from the extended months and weeks I had suffered through before!
Your healing time may differ depending on the severity of the injury. But I just want to point out how much faster healing can be if your concussion is addressed timely and with care.
So, get as much sleep as possible and start resting right away!
Even if you aren’t sleeping, let your body and mind be in a state of rest.
I know you might get a little bored.
You can watch TV if it suits you. But stick to easy, relaxing content.
Rest is critical for healing. I can’t stress that enough.
However, after a couple days of rest, if you are feeling up to it, gentle exercise can help with concussion healing, too.
Studies are showing gentle aerobic exercise can help with concussion recovery.
But this doesn’t mean to start hitting the aerobics class at your gym right away.
It’s important that the exercise be what is known as sub-threshold. That means it doesn’t worsen symptoms.
And if possible, this gentle exercise can be started around day 3 after your rest period.
One study showed that gentle exercise can reduce the risk of persistent post-concussion symptoms by 48%.
So far, you’ve learned about supplements, rest and gentle exercise. Next, read more about how you can decrease your toxic load and inflammation to help with concussions.
Reduce Your Toxic Load and Inflammation
Even mild concussions hinder the brain’s ability to clean itself of toxins.
So, reducing your toxic load overall can help.
And reducing any inflammation can help, too.
Drink a Lot of Water
Water is an essential part of any lifestyle.
One of the key purposes of drinking enough water is to move toxins out of your body.
Learn more about the water filter I use in my home here.
Drinking water is 1 of the easiest ways to help reduce inflammation in your body.
You may be tempted to eat fast food while you are recovering since it’s super convenient. But I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s highly inflammatory. And you want to do what you can to reduce inflammation.
Also, stay away inflammatory foods like:
- High carbohydrates
- Fried foods
- High histamine foods
Studies have shown that fasting during the first hours after getting a concussion may help with neuroprotection, cognitive function, and improved mitochondrial function after moderate TBI.
However, you want to talk with your provider before making any kind of dietary change.
Your needs are unique.
And remember, you want to get nutrients in your body to support your healing, too. So, talk with your health care provider about how intermittent fasting may support you.
If you aren’t having bowel movements, you aren’t clearing toxins.
On any given day, it’s good to get toxins out of your system.
But when you have a concussion, even more so. That’s because toxins can be inflammatory. And you’ll already be dealing with increased inflammation from the concussion.
For constipation, you might consider:
- Magnesium Oxide
- Increase fiber naturally with low histamine fruits and veggies like:
- Brussels Sprouts
One more thing you may want to consider is working with a neurological chiropractor.
Keep reading to learn more about that.
A neurological chiropractor will evaluate your nervous system and identify what might be happening in your brain.
And rather than medicines or surgeries, they offer different types of modalities to address this neurodegeneration.
For example, some patients will get chiropractic adjustments, typical of what you would expect with a chiropractor.
But many more will employ other modalities like:
- Eye exercises
- Light therapy
- Sound therapy
- Color therapy
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Massage therapy
- Balance exercises
The goal is to not just treat the symptoms. You want to get to the root cause.
Many of these exercises can engage the vagus nerve. And that’s critical for getting out of the danger response and into the rest and heal response your body desperately needs.
And physical adjustments can be helpful, too.
In my case, my vertebrae had slipped and were putting pressure on my vagus nerve.
Physical adjustments helped to relieve some of that pressure.
But the neurological chiropractor didn’t adjust my neck.
He evaluated my symptoms and body. He found I had trouble with my brain stem and somatic maps. This was causing dizziness, disorientation, nausea, concentration, memory issues, and light/sound sensitivity.
He taught me different kinds of exercises to rebalance my somatic maps and heal my brain stem.
He also stressed the importance of me working on my parasympathetic nervous system.
Now that you know more about concussions, you’re probably wondering, can you ever recover from one?
Can You Recover from Concussions?
Most people recover quickly and completely from a concussion.
Others can have symptoms that last for several weeks. And they gradually get better over time.
It’s been reported that on average, recovery time is 2-4 weeks. If symptoms last longer than expected, you might be experiencing post-concussion syndrome.
It’s important to talk with your doctor whether your lingering symptoms happen when at rest or are induced by physical or cognitive activity.
When to Seek Medical Attention for a Head Injury
The biggest mistake I made was to not address the concussion right away.
Get checked out quickly by someone who is well-versed in concussions and other types of head injuries!
There are reported instances that you may initially feel ok, even with very serious head injuries.
After 1 of my car accidents, I was in shock and felt no pain.
I didn’t seek medical treatment within the first 24 hours. And it was a mistake that cost me time and money.
That’s why you should get screened by a concussion specialist if you have any concerns. And that’s why you should start right away with a concussion protocol that works for you.
MRI and CT scans are not routine for diagnosing concussions. They can be useful for finding structural issues, though.
But a concussion without structural damage often presents normally on neuroimaging.
Your health care provider will likely ask questions to figure out if you do have a concussion.
You may get asked questions about:
- How the injury occurred
- Where on the head you feel pain
- Where you believe your head made impact
- What symptoms you’ve observed
The truth is it can be hard to self-assess how serious your head injury may be. Especially since your brain has been affected!
But it’s also important to work with a provider who really understands concussion symptoms.
There are still countless concussions that go undiagnosed every year simply because someone’s primary care physician doesn’t know how to screen for concussions.
So, be your own best advocate with your physician.
You can look for the following as described by the Centers for Disease Control. These are indications that you should seek medical attention:
- Loss of consciousness
- Headaches worsen or don’t go away
- One pupil larger than the other
- Any unusual behavior (be sure to listen to those around you!)
- Slurred speech
- Weakness or numbness in any part of your body
- Decreased coordination
- Significant nausea or repeated vomiting
- Inability to eat (or nurse in babies)
- Inability to wake up
- Any symptoms that have worsened
- Any symptoms that linger after 10-14 days
- A history of multiple concussions
Final Thoughts on Concussions
Concussions are often the results of pure accidents. You slip on the ice. You get in an accident. You trip on the rug.
But do what you can to prevent head injuries when possible. Protect your head!
Wear your seat belt when operating a motor vehicle.
Wear a helmet for sports or other physical activities like riding a bike.
Address any trip hazards in your house or yard.
Secure the rug that always seems to flip up.
Keep the floors clear of toys, clothing, and other trip hazards.
And if you can do physical activity, consider working on balance exercises. Balance can decline as you age.
Those over 75 fall into 1 of the highest risk categories for concussions. This is largely in part because of the increased risk of falling.
But whatever your age, working on balance can be helpful. You can find lots of great balance exercises online.
And for me, adding a mindfulness practice was important. I started to become more aware of my body and how I moved through my space.
Your brain is the control center of your body! So, keep your brain in good health.
Have you ever had a concussion? What helped you most to recover? Let me know in the comments what you did to help you work through a concussion.
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