Traumatic brain injury can have diverse physical, mental and cognitive effects. These health complications of TBI may not arise until days or weeks after an auto accident, fall or other head trauma. 

Knowing the varied TBI symptoms can help you detect when you or a family member needs medical help after this type of injury. 

Physical effects

TBI can cause loss of consciousness that persists for days or even weeks with a serious injury. Even if you did not lose consciousness, you may experience: 

  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Fatigue  
  • Dizziness 
  • Seizures 
  • Impaired coordination 
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Numbness in the extremities 
  • Blurry vision 
  • Ringing ears 
  • Headache 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Sensitivity to light or sound 
  • Clear draining from the ears or nose 

Mental health effects

If you develop mood swings after an accident, you could have a TBI. Seek medical help for: 

  • Aggressive behavior 
  • Anger 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Unexplained crying 
  • Unusual high mood (mania) 

Cognitive effects

After an accident that causes a TBI, you may feel confused or disoriented. Other cognitive symptoms may include: 

  • Memory loss 
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Difficulty understanding others 
  • Difficulty speaking 

After a head impact, go to the emergency room right away, even if you do not notice symptoms immediately. You should also seek medical care for complications that arise after the accident, even if you do not immediately associate your symptoms with the TBI incident. 

TBI most commonly affects children younger than 4, adults older than 60, males of all ages, and young adults ages 15 to 24. You can decrease the risk for a head injury by wearing a seatbelt, avoiding distracted driving and wearing a helmet during sports.