According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 300,000 sport related concussions occur annually in the United States. Texas Tech Medical Center's Dr. Richard Homan says a concussion should not be taken lightly.
"Concussion is result of a brain injury. It's a result of a blow to the head. Sometimes people think that a concussion only occurs when you have loss of consciousness or get knocked out. But more subtle signs can be just as serious, and those can be memory loss or confusion, nausea or vomiting, or dizziness," explains Dr. Homan.
A recent JAMA study on NCAA football players showed that players with previous concussions were more likely to have future head injuries. Dr. Homan says the first blow could cause the basic symptoms. The second blow could cause more severe injuries.
"A concussion can be very serious. They can lead to some type of brain swelling and sometimes even death. Even some of the subtle signs of concussion can lead to serious brain injury, especially if it hasn't been totally, if someone hasn't totally recovered from the initial injury," says Dr. Homan.
The JAMA study recommends that there be a 7 to 10 day waiting period to prevent the "second impact syndrome."
Remember, if you are an athlete and you suffer head trauma that results in a concussion, don't get back on the field too early.
Dr. David Smith adds some less obvious warning signs after a head injury would include: fatigue, difficulty sleeping, headaches, balance problems, or blurred vision. And since it may take several hours for those symptoms to show up, it can be dangerous for an injured athlete to hop back into the game. They may be feeling good but fueling the injury instead.