Post-Concussion Syndrome

What is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Lingering headaches, dizziness, and related symptoms experienced after the initial injury that caused a concussion is termed Post-Concussion Syndrome. Initially resulting from some type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), PCS is often caused by temporary or permanent damage within the brain itself. Related symptoms of a concussion may last for several days or weeks afterwards.

What are the Symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Signs of Post-Concussion Syndrome

PCS isn’t predictable in terms of when symptoms appear or how long presented symptoms will continue to appear. PCS symptoms may be more pronounced if the initial concussion included immediate amnesia or haziness or if the affected person has a history of headaches. In some cases, symptoms related to a concussion can appear off and on for months or years after the initial head injury.

Common symptoms of PCS include:

  • Fatigue or insomnia
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Chronic headaches
  • Increased anxiety
  • Memory lapses or forgetfulness
  • Changes in usual mood
    • Heightened sensitivity to sound or light

How is Post-Concussion Syndrome Treated?

Due to the vague nature of PCS symptoms, there is no definitive test to diagnose it. If post-concussion effects are suspected, a physical exam may be followed by image tests to identify possible brain issues such as swelling or the accumulation of blood. Treatment is based on the determined cause of PCS symptoms. Medications may help manage or reduce persistent headaches or anxiety. Patients may be referred to a neurologist or psychiatrist for further evaluation.

PCS isn’t always linked to the severity of the initial head injury. It does explain why some people may have no immediate symptoms following a concussion and others will develop symptoms hours or days later. Any unusual symptoms following a concussion should be evaluated by a doctor. Not always involving loss of consciousnesses, PCS can occur with both mild and severe concussions.

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Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
August 29, 2017
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