Seeing Stars

Why do you see stars when you bump your head? Seeing stars or bursts of light is common after a bump on the head. These “stars” you see are neurons on the visual cortex firing spontaneously.

This happens inside the skull, where there is extra room for the brain to move backward and forward. When you get a bang on the head, your brain is suddenly accelerated, shaking the brain, this causes blood sloshing blood into or out of the capillaries abruptly changing oxygenation levels. The back-and-forth motion in the skull also affects the occiput. The occiput is the section of the cranium that is located at the rear of the skull and contains tissues responsible for communicating nerve impulses going into the eyes and the rest of the body.

In most cases, this is no cause for concern. There is cause for concern when the stars don’t go away after a short period or return. If you have these other symptoms, you should get to the ER:

  • Headache
  • Problems concentrating
  • Memory
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Blurry vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Personality changes
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • sleep disturbances
  • Seizures










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