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Dr. Roach: Complications possible after head trauma

Keith Roach
To Your Health

Dear Dr. Roach: I was in a car accident a few months ago and got pretty banged up. I have been forgetting things that I normally wouldn’t, and have been dropping things. I went to a neurologist, who told me I suffered a severe concussion and wants me to have a brain scan. Do you think this is a normal course of action? I’m afraid of what the diagnosis will be.

L.K.

Dear L.K: A concussion is a type of brain injury due to trauma. The term “concussion” usually implies relatively mild brain injury, and most cases eventually get better, but there can be significant symptoms, and they can last for weeks or months after the injury, broadly referred to as “post-concussion syndrome.”

Not everybody with head trauma requires a CT or MRI scan. However, there are some possible serious complications after head trauma, including a subdural hematoma, a type of bleeding into the head, below the meninges (lining of the brain) and the brain itself. Given your symptoms, I absolutely agree with your neurologist that a scan is indicated.

I understand that you are afraid of the diagnosis, but you should remember that treatment is almost always better sooner than later.

Dear Dr. Roach: My spouse passes gas throughout the night. He claims that he is asleep and unaware of any problems. I say that this is a voluntary activity and that he should be able to control it. Who is right?

R.A.

Dear R.A.: He is. Passing gas while asleep is entirely involuntary. If you are really bothered by it, you can work on some dietary changes, including avoiding carbonated beverages and limiting foods that commonly cause the intestinal bacteria to produce gas, such as beans, bran, cauliflower and cabbage.

Email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu.