Traumatic brain injuries, otherwise known as TBIs, can be complex and challenging to diagnose, especially when the more overt symptoms are absent. While severe cases of TBIs often manifest with noticeable signs like intense headaches, there are subtle signs that people should not overlook.
Considering that a startling 214,110 people went to the hospital because of a TBI in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, staying vigilant is important. Some subtle indicators may not be immediately apparent, but they are important in identifying a TBI.
Changes in sleep patterns
One subtle sign of a TBI can be alterations in sleep patterns. This may include increased drowsiness during the day or difficulty sleeping at night. Some individuals might experience disrupted sleep or unusual fatigue, which can be indicative of underlying brain trauma.
Mood swings and irritability
A TBI can affect a person’s emotional well-being. Mood swings, unexplained irritability or sudden bursts of anger may occur. These emotional changes are part of the brain’s altered chemistry following an injury.
Another subtle sign is a noticeable decline in the ability to concentrate. Individuals with TBIs may find it challenging to stay focused on tasks, experience mental fog or struggle to remember details of recent events.
Heightened sensitivities to light and noise are often associated with TBIs. Affected individuals may become more bothered by bright lights and loud sounds than they were before the injury.
Changes in taste and smell
An altered sense of taste or smell can also be a subtle sign of a TBI. Some individuals may report unusual or unpleasant tastes and odors that they did not experience previously.
Balance and coordination problems
Subtle balance and coordination issues can develop after a TBI. Affected individuals may feel unsteady on their feet, experience dizziness or have trouble maintaining balance.
Changes in social behavior
TBI can alter an individual’s social behavior. This may manifest as withdrawal from social activities, isolation or a decreased interest in maintaining relationships.
Subtle memory problems can develop after a TBI. These may include forgetfulness, difficulty recalling recent events or trouble forming new memories.
Fatigue and weakness
Persistent fatigue and unexplained weakness, even in the absence of physical injury, can be subtle signs of a TBI. These symptoms can interfere with daily activities and quality of life.
Recognizing these signs early on is important for early intervention and appropriate medical care. TBIs are complex injuries that require proper diagnosis and treatment to prevent long-term complications.