How to Cope With Fatigue After a Concussion
Have you recently suffered from a concussion due to a car wreck? Are you wondering how to cope with the accompanying fatigue?
While there are a lot of unpleasant symptoms that come with a concussion, fatigue is certainly one of the worst ones. Fatigue can affect your mood, your ability to concentrate, and your overall health.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to cope with your levels of fatigue.
Check out this guide to learn how to cope with fatigue after a concussion.
Understand the Causes of Post-Concussion Fatigue
First things first, you need to understand the causes of post-concussion fatigue. The main causes are:
- Chronic Pain
- Sleep Problems
- Neurovascular Coupling Dysregulation
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Vision Problems
- Depression and Anxiety
- Dysautonomia and Stress
Now, let’s talk a bit more about how each of these can cause fatigue:
After a concussion from a car wreck, it’s very common to suffer from neck pain and chronic headaches. Dealing with this constant pain can be difficult and exhausting, and it can definitely contribute to your extreme fatigue after a concussion.
A lot of people try to treat their chronic pain with various therapies and medications. However, if your symptoms last more than a few weeks, it’s doubtful they’ll go away unless the root cause is treated.
We all know that not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling tired and groggy the next day.
But, what if you’re struggling with your sleep every night? Or, what if you actually are getting eight hours but are still waking up feeling exhausted? If you’re wondering if these types of sleep problems are related to a concussion, the answer is ‘yes’.
Many people with concussions suffer from hypersomnia (too much sleep) or insomnia (not enough sleep).
But, how does a concussion cause these sleep problems? Basically, the area of the brain that facilitates sleep can be damaged by a concussion. This can prevent your brain from going through its normal cycles and doing the work it needs to do while you’re sleeping.
Luckily, there are treatments you can seek that can help you get to the root of the problem, such as Cognitive FX or EPIC treatment.
Neurovascular Coupling Dysregulation
The neurovascular coupling system delivers blood and nutrients to specific regions of your brain. After a concussion from a car wreck, this system can malfunction, especially if your brain is inflamed.
When your brain is calling for more fuel but nothing is happening, then it needs to find a less efficient route to accomplish what it’s trying to do. All this rerouting can cause mental and physical exhaustion, especially when it’s happening day after day.
For example, the basal ganglia is a commonly injured area of the brain during a concussion. It’s responsible for physical and cognitive coordination, among other things. Without this area working properly, your brain has to work with very little direction. This means that other regions of your brain have to pick up the slack, which can, in turn, wear you out very quickly.
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalances.
Hormonal imbalances can occur without concussions. However, a concussion can damage the pituitary gland (the primary source of hormone production). This can lead to excess or insufficient hormone production.
In addition to fatigue, common symptoms of hormonal imbalance include increased sensitivity to cold and heat, weight gain, thinning hair, brain fog, and joint pain.
If you suspect that hormonal imbalance is the cause of your fatigue, it’s best to speak to an endocrinologist.
Vision problems are very common post-concussion, and they may be another source of your fatigue.
When you have trouble focusing or teaming your eyes, you’ll find that you get tired very quickly, especially when you try to work at a computer or read. This can cause your peripheral vision to overreact, which can then lead to headaches and the feeling of being overwhelmed in large spaces.
When your brain is working hard to compensate for these vision problems, it can lead to both cognitive fatigue and eye fatigue.
Depression and Anxiety
Fatigue is a very common symptom of depression and anxiety. And, patients who suffer from concussions often experience depression and anxiety.
This can be for a number of different reasons. For one, trauma to the brain can affect your personality as well as your mental health. Additionally, dramatic lifestyle changes due to a concussion can leave one feeling depressed and anxious.
Oftentimes, patients who suffer from concussions have to limit or eliminate their normal activities for a period of time. This can lead to both frustration and isolation.
The best way to deal with symptoms of depression and anxiety is to see a psychotherapist. If therapy doesn’t seem to help, you may want to talk to your doctor about getting on medication.
Dysautonomia and Stress
the automatic nervous system is a vital system that is often damaged during a concussion. This system controls things like blood pressure and heart rate.
When this system is damaged, it tends to overreact. For example, if you’re hiking in the mountains and encounter a bear, your blood pressure and heart rate are going to shoot up. The ANS calls for a big shot of adrenaline in this situation in order to keep you alive.
However, if your ANS is overreacting, you may feel like you’re encountering a bear all day long. This continuous overstimulation can leave you feeling exhausted.
Another complication that often results from ANS malfunction is exercise intolerance. This can result in brain fog, nausea, dizziness, and headaches after exercise. Those who experience exercise intolerance often quit exercising due to these negative symptoms.
Unfortunately, exercise is crucial when it comes to combating fatigue. So, the less you exercise, the more tired you’re likely to feel.
Luckily, these issues can be treated with the right therapy.
How to Cope With Fatigue After a Concussion
Now that you know what might be causing your fatigue and what to do about it, let’s talk about some general strategies for coping with fatigue after a concussion.
Eating the Right Diet
When it comes to managing your post-concussion fatigue, eating the right diet is crucial. Here are some of the top foods that can help you beat fatigue:
While a cheeseburger and fries might be comforting when you’re tired, its nutritional value is extremely low.
Processed foods, like boxed meals, candy, boxed foods, and pre-cooked meats are filled with preservatives, sodium, additives, trans fat, and other artificial ingredients that can slow you down.
Fresh Season Fruits and Vegetables
The fresher your fruits and vegetables are, the more nutrients they will contain. The more nutrients you’re taking in, the better you’ll be able to combat your fatigue.
Caffeine is okay in moderation, and it has even been shown to have some health benefits. And although caffeine provides your body with a short-term boost, it doesn’t actually provide you with energy.
If you’re not providing your body with nutrient-dense meals after that initial jolt, you’ll run out of steam pretty quickly.
If you can’t cut out the caffeine, stick to black coffee or unsweetened tea. Avoid energy drinks and soda, as these are full of artificial ingredients and sugar that can cause you to crash.
When it comes to protein, we suggest sticking to leaner meats like chicken, fish, and turkey. Avoid eating red meats, as these are high in saturated fats and will leave you feeling sluggish.
Whole Grains and Complex Carbs
Just like processed foods, refined carbs like white flour and sugar add little nutrition to your diet.
In order to ensure that your body gets the full benefits of complex carbs, we suggest sticking to whole grain foods.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds aren’t just great for fighting fatigue, they’re also great for combating hunger.
We recommend eating a variety of nuts and seeds to boost your energy levels, such as almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Eat raw, unsalted versions if possible.
Because bananas are packed with potassium, vitamins, fiber, and the right amount of carbs, they can give your body a natural boost of energy and stave off fatigue.
In fact, one study found that bananas are able to sustain energy for long cycling rides as much as sports drinks are.
Oats are packed with fiber and protein, which means that they can provide you with enough energy to sustain you throughout the day. We recommend going with plain steel-cut oats or old-fashioned oats.
Due to their carb content, filling fiber, and healthy fats, chia seeds can provide you with sustained energy. Just sprinkle a few tablespoons of chia seeds into your morning smoothie or yogurt, and you’ll have enough energy to get you through the day.
Last but not least, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Although water doesn’t provide the body with energy in the form of calories, it helps the body facilitate energetic processes.
Swap out your soda, coffee, and juices and instead sip on water throughout the day.
In addition to eating more of these foods, we also suggest eating small meals and snacks every 3 to 4 hours, rather than larger meals less often. Large meals can cause your energy levels to dip, while small meals can keep them humming along.
As we mentioned earlier, exercise is great for combating fatigue. It can also help you recover from your concussion.
However, you need to be very safe about exercising after you have a concussion. Before you start any sort of exercise regime, get clearance from your doctor.
In general, you’ll want to stick to mild exercises that increase your heart rate without dramatically impacting your symptoms. Some good options include riding a stationary bike, going for a swim, doing pilates, or going for a brisk walk.
Keep in mind that even if you can only exercise for five minutes, it’s worth doing.
Reducing your stress levels will also help reduce your fatigue. Plus, stress reduction helps improve your mental and physical health.
Here are some of the top activities recommended for stress reduction:
- Physical exercise
- Breathing exercises
- Taking a warm bath
- Spending time in nature
- Listening to music
- Getting a massage
- Tai chi
Whatever relaxes you will provide you with energy, so be sure to take some time to figure out what works for you.
Try Talk Therapy
There’s some evidence that talking therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and counseling can help fight fatigue as well as anxiety and depression.
If you find that your concussion has been getting you down, then talking to someone about it might help.
Drinking alcohol while concussed can be extremely dangerous, so you should avoid it at all costs. Even though a glass or two of wine may help you fall asleep, you sleep less deeply after drinking alcohol.
Even if you get a full eight hours of sleep, you’ll likely still be tired the next day. Therefore, we suggest cutting out alcohol until your concussion has fully healed.
Fatigue After a Concussion: Are You Ready to Combat Your Fatigue?
As you can see, there’s a lot that you can do to combat fatigue after a concussion. Now, it’s time to put these tips into action.
Additionally, if your concussion was caused by a car wreck, you may want to consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to ensure your medical bills are compensated. Contact us today about hiring a personal injury lawyer.