How to Recognize a Head Injury

So, you hit your head, but can’t decide if you should seek medical treatment for your injury…Should you call your physician immediately, go to an emergency room, or dismiss it because it wasn’t that bad of hit, in your opinion? Well, if you hit your head, or experience some type of head injury (i.e. anything from a knot on your head to a traumatic brain injury), it is imperative that you seek medical treatment, as soon as possible. What is a head injury? Well, it is any trauma to your scalp, skull, and/or brain. A head injury is dangerous because it does not always present with immediate symptoms. In fact, some people may not realize the seriousness of their condition, until it is life-threatening.

The symptoms of a head injury vary, depending on the type and location of the injury. Some symptoms may develop immediately, while others may gradually appear (i.e. after a couple of hours or days). Even if you do not experience a skull fracture, there is still a chance that you have injured your brain or spinal cord, so it is important to seek medical attention for your injury. If you experience a severe, persistent headache, stiff neck, loss of consciousness, nausea, vomiting, and breathing difficulties, go to your local emergency room immediately. If you are wondering how to recognize a head injury, you have come to the right place. This article will teach you the various symptoms associated with a head injury.

Listed below are symptoms that are commonly associated with a head injury:

Physical Changes

It is not uncommon to experience physical changes, following a head injury. For instance, face and/or skull fractures, facial bruises, scalp wounds, swelling around the injury site, bloody nose, ears, and/or mouth, dilated pupils, and/or unnatural facial expressions, are all indicative of a head injury that needs to be evaluated immediately.

Dizziness & Loss of Consciousness

Head injuries are also associated with dizziness and loss of consciousness. If you feel dizzy, drowsy, and/or confused, following a head injury, you may have a concussion that requires emergency medical attention. This is especially true if you have a knot on your head and/or you lose consciousness. It is important to note that you can still have a head injury, and not lose consciousness. In some cases, you may start to feel better after a head injury, only to experience a re-emergence of symptoms hours or days later.

Change in Personality

You may also experience a change in personality, following a head injury. The most common symptom of a head injury in children is irritability and agitation, while the most common one in adults is abnormal behaviors, and mood swings.

Headaches

A common symptom associated with a head injury is a headache. It is important to note that a headache does not necessarily signal a traumatic head injury, but it could, especially if the headache worsens or persists. A head injury, accompanied by a headache, can be life-threating, if not treated quickly.

Nausea & Vomiting

Other common symptoms associated with a head injury are nausea and vomiting. If you experience a bump on your head, followed by nausea and vomiting, it can be a sign of a serious injury. In fact, these symptoms may be indicative of a concussion that requires emergency medical attention. If the nausea and vomiting worsen or persist, it is important to contact your physician, and/or go to the emergency room immediately.

Seizures & Memory Loss

Traumatic head injuries can affect your brain and cause you to experience seizures. Common triggers include: pieces of skull, and/or other objects entering your brain, and/or damage to the brain. If you experience brain damage, as a result of your injury, you may suffer from seizures for the rest of your life. In addition, you may also experience short-term or long-term memory loss, as a result of a head injury. Depending on the severity of your injury, the memory loss may be temporary or permanent. If you start to experience memory loss, following a head injury, contact your physician as soon as possible.

References:

Mayo Clinic. (2014). Head trauma: First aid. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-head-trauma/basics/art-20056626

Medline Plus. (2014). Head injury – First aid. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000028.htm

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