In this week’s blog, I am going to talk about traumatic brain injury (TBI) and why it is so important to take action. I can’t tell you how many of us experienced head trauma or concussion in our past, and more than not, did nothing. In fact, a JAMA study from May concluded that a large proportion of patients with mild TBI do not receive follow-up care after injury even when they experience ongoing symptoms (1). I will explain why this is a problem.
TBI is a form of injury that occurs with trauma to the brain. This usually results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. The most common forms of TBI: falling, car accidents, violence, sports injuries and other combat injuries (2). Protecting yourself from TBI is so important because this increases your risk of Alzheimer’s disease (3).
When trauma occurs to the brain, particularly with repetitive traumas, tissue damage occurs. Damaging tissue leads to a massive release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) (4) which ultimately leads to nerve cell death (5). Massive ROS release also damages the meninges (membrane that encloses the brain) and the blood brain barrier, leading to a leaky brain.
Now the brain tissue is permeable to things like sodium, potassium, and chloride; and the brain swells. Our immune systems activate to basically plug up this damage. In response to cellular death, the immune system begins to ‘eat up’ this debris, causing neuro-inflammation; and this is bad. Within hours, amyloid beta plaques begin to form (6). These plaques are a signature feature of Alzheimer’s disease (7).
Always see your doctor if you or your child has experienced trauma to the head or body that concerns you or causes behavioral changes. Head trauma warrants the emergency room if there are any signs and symptoms following a TBI. Stay tuned next week for nutritional and supplemental recommendations for TBI.
So what if you had an injury to the head?
The signs and symptoms of mild TBI may include (2):
Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented
Nausea or vomiting
Fatigue or drowsiness
Problems with speech
Sleeping more than usual
Dizziness or loss of balance
Sensory problems such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell
Sensitivity to light or sound
Memory or concentration problems
Mood changes or mood swings
Feeling depressed or anxious
Sign and symptoms of a moderate to severe brain injury:
Anything listed in mild TBI but with greater intensity
Convulsions or seizures
Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
Clear fluid draining from the nose or ears
Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
Children’s symptoms (in addition to those listed above):
Change in eating or nursing habits
Unusual or easy irritability
Persistent crying and inability to be consoled
Change in ability to pay attention
Change in sleep habits
Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities