If you've ever suffered a head injury – no matter how mild – then read this article. In it you will learn the number one thing you can do NOW to avoid further brain damage after a concussion.
CONCUSSIONS ARE SERIOUS BUSINESS
Everyone's talking about them these days – Hollywood, the media, public health officials, athletes. And for good reason – the consequences of a concussion can be severe. I know this firsthand – both from having personally sustained and recovered from several concussions myself – and from treating many concussion patients at my specialty functional neurology practice in Berkeley, California. I've worked with elite Olympic athletes and professional hockey players as well as everyday people like you and me who don't engage in high contact sports on a daily basis. Regardless of who, one thing that we all had in common was a mild traumatic brain injury that was very real and negatively impacting our experience of life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States contributing to about 30% of all injury related deaths
Every day, 138 people in the US alone die from injuries that include TBI. Those who survive a TBI can face effects that last only a few days to chronic symptoms that linger for the rest of their lives.
Alarming statistics aside, TBIs are devastating. They can be incredibly scary especially if you blacked out after the injury. But even if you didn't lose consciousness or the impact wasn't that hard you may still have sustained a concussion that needs attention. This is especially true for those of you who are suffering from chronic symptoms no matter how mild they may be (see list below for most common symptoms of concussion). The inflammatory response that's launched inside your brain as a consequence of the injury can lead to significant, life-long impairment affecting your ability to function physically, mentally and emotionally if not immediately/adequately addressed. The good news is that there are safe and natural options to concussion care. Trust me, I know – I use them every day in my practice with great results, and have healed from my own injuries using the same approach that I offer my patients.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a milder form of head injury that still has negative impacts on the health and function of your brain. The word comes from the Latin concutere which means to "shake violently". It's caused by a sudden direct blow, bump or jolt to your head. Many people that have a concussion recover quickly and fully. But for some, changes in brain function can last for days, weeks, months and even years and can be really subtle and difficult to pinpoint.
Almost all of the patients I've worked with who've suffered from concussion were no longer in a life-threatening situation and were medically stable. So why did they come to me for help? Because they were still suffering from a myriad of other chronic symptoms that no one else was able to figure out. Most of them told me that they "just don't feel right". After a careful and comprehensive history and advanced neurological exam I figured out that they had Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS). PCS is characterized by a set of concussion symptoms that continue long after the original injury (I've treated patients with PCS decades after their original trauma!). Below I've organized the most common concussion symptoms into 3 distinct categories: neurological, cognitive and emotional.
1. Neurological symptoms
Sensitivity to lights and sounds
2. Cognitive symptoms
3. Emotional symptoms
TAKE THE POST-CONCUSSION QUIZ
Do you suffer from headaches, migraines or dizziness?
Do you get dizzy or nauseous in a car?
Are you sensitive to light and/or sound?
Do you have problems with balance or instability?
Do you often feel irritable?
Do you feel anxious or depressed for no obvious reason?
Do you suffer from fatigue that interrupts your daily life?
Do you get stressed out easily?
Do you have brain fog?
Is your memory worse now than before?
Do you have a hard time focusing or concentrating?
Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?
Do you have unresolved leaky gut?
If you've ever dinged your head AND answered yes to more than 5 of these questions, there's a great chance that you have an undiagnosed case of Post-Concussion Syndrome and should seek help from a brain specialist. In the meantime, here is the number one thing you can do now to avoid further damage to your brain:
How to Avoid Further Brain Damage After a Concussion
REMOVE ALL ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS FROM YOUR DIET
Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, are excitotoxins – synthetic chemicals that can literally excite your brain cells to death. Another example of an excitotoxin is MSG which is found in many processed foods. These chemicals work by overwhelming your brain with neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that your brain and body produces naturally that are essential for health. But when in excess as happens when you consume artificial sweeteners they cause your brain to go haywire because it can't handle all the stimulation and excitement. I strongly encourage everyone to remove artificial sweeteners from their diet. But for people with Post-Concussion Syndrome – who already have brain inflammation to begin with – it's an absolute must to avoid these substances at all costs.
Here is a list of common sources of artificial sweeteners:
Sweet n' Low
By removing these "foods" from your diet you will be taking the first step to enhancing your brain's ability to heal and to avoid further brain damage after your concussion.
To Your Total Health,
Dr. Titus Chiu
If you have a friend or loved one who has suffered a concussion – no matter how mild – share this article with them!