A head injury may seem innocuous at first—a little slip and a bump to the head—but it could be far more dangerous. If a person loses consciousness after a head injury, then the person has had a “concussion,” which may be serious because it means there has been a temporary loss in brain function. Some people with concussions do not lose consciousness, and brain injuries can occur without a loss of consciousness.
Severe head injuries can involve bruising, fracture, swelling, internal bleeding or a blood clot. Seek emergency care if you notice any of these signs of severe head injury:
- Headaches that worsen, despite over-the-counter pain medications.
- Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination.
- Repeated vomiting.
- Loss of consciousness for more than one minute.
- Person is unconscious or cannot be awakened.
- Unequal pupil sizes — one pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) is larger than the other.
- Convulsions or seizures.
- Slurred speech.
- Increased confusion or agitation.
You do not need to prevent a person with a head injury from sleeping as a safeguard against going into a coma; this concept is a myth. If the person has neck pain, try to prevent any movement of the neck.
Click here for more information about child head injuries.