A concussion is a serious injury which occurs when the brain hits the skull during an impact, such as in an impact during contact sports or in some fall from more than 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) height. Headaches are one of the major side effects. Concussion headaches are difficult to treat, but there are some methods that can help reduce them. There is no medication that will address the underlying cause of the pain, so individual headache symptoms need to be treated as they arise. It’s important to remember these headaches are usually temporary, and will fade away with time.
Method One of Three:
Minimizing Headache Pain in Daily LifeEdit
1Rest your brain for a few days. Concussion symptoms—including headaches—can reduce your brain’s ability to perform. After your concussion, your brain will not function at its full capacity. This means that you need to rest it often, by taking both physical and mental rests. Try avoiding activities that cause extra strain on the brain. Activities that may strain the brain require cognitive focus, and include texting, reading, and exercising.
- Watching TV should be fine, since it involves low cognitive energy. However, playing board games like chess or Risk, working on crossword puzzles, or playing video games may strain your brain.
- You can also rest your brain by taking daily naps. The more rest you give your brain, the faster it will heal and the headaches will dissipate.
2Identify and avoid things that trigger your headaches. Triggers are things that aggravate the brain, and therefore cause a bigger headache. Some common examples are noise, light, physical activity, mental activity, driving, or concentrating on a mental activity. Try to find these triggers and avoid them.
- For example, if noise causes a bigger headache, wear earplugs or find a quiet environment.
3Drink lots of healthy fluids during the day. The human brain is mostly fat and water. Keeping fluid levels up will help regulate headaches caused by concussions. Keeping hydrated will also help your brain heal more quickly.
- Aim to drink at least 2 litres (0.53 US gal) of healthy fluids a day. These include things like water, fruit juice, and tea.
4Eat something at least every two hours. The brain also has lots of glucose, and these levels need to be kept up in order to heal faster and to diminish the pain from concussion headaches. You don’t need to have a full meal, but at least eat a snack.
- Even eating a granola bar or a piece of fruit every two hours will significantly help.
5Take frequent breaks from work during the day. The brain needs time to recharge and will do this faster with breaks. If you continue working and force yourself to concentrate, you’ll run the risk of worsening your headache. For example, work for 20 minutes and then take a 10 minute break.
- During the first weeks after the concussion, you’ll also find yourself getting worn out from any sort of mental activity much more quickly than you would have before the concussion.
6Do not re-injure your head. This may sound like common sense, but while you’re concussed, make sure that you do not hit your head again. Not only will a second head injury exacerbate the pain from your headaches, but it can cause serious brain damage.
- Your doctor will advise you to stop playing sports (or doing other activities that could cause a head injury) while you’re recovering from the concussion.
Method Two of Three:
Working with Your Doctor and SpecialistsEdit
1Ask your doctor about medications that could be used to help. Your doctor will be able to give advice and, if needed, prescriptions to help manage the concussion pain. Be aware, though that there are currently no FDA-approved medications specifically made to treat post-concussion headaches.
- Depending on the location and severity of your concussion, the doctor may also refer you to a specialist for specific medication prescriptions.
2Take acetaminophen when needed. Acetaminophen is a common over-the-counter anti-pain medication, which is found in Tylenol. Do not take ibuprofen (found in Motrin IB and Advil) for the headache pain. Ibuprofen may raise the risk of bleeding in the brain.
- Talk to your doctor if you’re at risk of exceeding the maximum suggested dosage. If these medicines are taken all the time, your body can become adapted and dependent on the medicine. As a result, you may experience severe rebound headaches.
3Ask your primary care physician about seeing an acupuncturist. While it’s not a medical treatment, some evidence exists to indicate that acupuncture may be able to help decrease the symptoms of post-concussion headaches. Acupuncture can increase the flow of blood to the brain, which will stimulate the brain to heal more quickly.
- You may experience some mild discomfort during the acupuncture procedure. It consists in having a number of tiny needles inserted into various muscle groupings.
4See a chiropractor to help with headache pain. If headaches persist, ask your general practitioner to refer you to a chiropractor. The chiropractor can decrease headache pain by stretching your neck muscles and the tendons behind the ears. Once you’ve been adjusted, ask the chiropractor if there are any steps you can take at home (with a friend or family member) to stretch or exercise your neck muscles.
- Ensure you finish any course of therapy by adjusting your neck bones and neck muscles at home, if directed by the doctor.
5Try natural supplements to ease the pain. While they’re no substitute for actual medications prescribed by a doctor, some natural supplements may help decrease the pain from headaches. Supplements that are good for the brain and may improve its rate of healing after a concussion include: green tea, curcumin (found in the spice turmeric), vitamin E, and creatine.
- Taking fish oil can also help the brain’s recovery by providing healthy, fatty acids to the brain.
- Natural supplements and other homeopathic cures can be found in health-food stores or in the organic section of large grocery stores.
Method Three of Three:
Dealing with Post-Concussion SyndromeEdit
1See your doctor if concussion symptoms last more than a few weeks. Your concussion headaches should have stopped after a few weeks, or 2 months at the longest. If you’re still experiencing concussion-related headaches after this time, schedule an appointment with your general practitioner.
- Depending on the severity of your concussion, you may have Post-Concussion Syndrome. This syndrome manifests through symptoms including nausea, dizziness, insomnia, or a ringing sound in the ears. Describe these symptoms to your doctor if you experience them.
2Ask your doctor about a CT or MRI scan. Both CT (computerized tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans will allow the doctor to see a clear image of your brain. With this image, they’ll be better able to determine if your brain has been seriously damaged from the event that concussed you. This may lead to a diagnosis of Post-Concussion Syndrome.
- Unfortunately, MRI and CT scans are not always conclusive at determining if you have Post-Concussion Syndrome.
3Work with your doctor to treat other long-term symptoms. The best way to combat Post-Concussion Syndrome is to work on treating each symptom individually. For example, if you experience tension-type headaches or migraines, your doctor can prescribe antidepressants or anti-epileptic medications to help.
- Or, if you experience severe dizziness, your doctor can refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist to help you regain balance.
- Finally, if you experience mental-health issues like depression or anxiety as a result of your concussion, your doctor can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist.
It has been about a year since my fifth concussion and I still have headache frequently. Should I be worried?Answered by wikiHow Contributor
- Definitely schedule an appointment with your doctor, as s/he may need to perform an MRI to see if there has been any damage. Tell your doctor any other symptoms you have, such as nausea or forgetfulness. The effects of concussions stack, so do not ignore any symptoms which are bothersome or out of the ordinary.
I got a minor concussion in trampoline gymnastics and it has been 2 months since the incident. I have been going to school and living like I normally would. Is it normal to still be having headaches?
What can I do to ease the pain of persistent headaches?
How do I treat concussion headaches for someone who has had several concussions in a few years?
Will cold cloth help sooth a concussion headache?
What should I do if my hearing is affected?
- If you have Post-Concussion Syndrome, your doctor may increase your prescription for painkiller medications. The types of medication that you are prescribed shouldn’t change, though.
- If you experienced whiplash when you were concussed, you’ll need to treat that as well. The whiplash may be contributing to the severity of your headaches. You may experience pain in the neck that is restricting blood flow to the brain.
- Check with your doctor before you start taking anything more than an over-the-counter painkiller.