Minor Head Injury In Children

What causes a minor head injury?

A minor head injury is most often caused by a blow to the head. This may occur from a fall, a sports injury, or a motor vehicle accident. Forceful shaking may also cause a minor head injury.

What are the symptoms of a minor head injury?

Right after the injury, your child may be confused. Symptoms may last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. Your child may have any of the following:

  • Mild to moderate headache

  • Dizziness or loss of balance

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Change in mood, such as feeling restless or irritable

  • Trouble thinking, remembering, or concentrating

  • Ringing in the ears

  • Short-term loss of newly-learned skills, such as toilet training

  • Drowsiness or decreased amount of energy

  • Change in how your child sleeps

How is a minor head injury diagnosed?

Your child's caregiver will ask about the injury and your child's symptoms. Your child may need a neuro exam to check his brain function. Your child's caregiver will check how your child's pupils react to light. He will check your child's memory, hand grasp, and balance.

How is a minor head injury treated?

Ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be given to decrease your child's pain. They can be bought without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child, and how often to give it.

What are the risks of a minor head injury?

Your child may have more serious problems, such as bleeding or a blood clot in the brain. Each additional head injury your child has may increase his risk of long-term problems. These problems may include poor coordination (balance and movement), or trouble thinking or concentrating. Repeated head injuries can be life-threatening.

How can I manage my child's minor head injury?

  • Rest: Have your child rest in bed or do quiet activities for the first 24 hours.

  • Ice: Ice helps decrease pain and swelling. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel, and place it on your child's injury for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.

  • Activity: Your child may not be able to play sports or do activities that may result in a blow to the head. Ask when your child can return to his usual activities.

  • Wake your child up during the night as directed: Ask him a few questions, such as his name or his favorite food, to see if he is alert.

  • Notify: Let your child's teachers, coaches, or daycare providers know about the injury and symptoms to watch for.

When should I contact my child's caregiver?

Contact your child's caregiver if:

  • Your child is harder to wake than usual.

  • Your child's symptoms get worse during the first few days after his injury.

  • Your child will not stop crying or will not eat.

  • Your child has headaches that are severe or get worse in the days after the injury.

  • Your child's symptoms last longer than 6 weeks after the injury.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your child has repeated or forceful vomiting.

  • Your child has blood or clear fluid coming out of his ears or nose.

  • Your child does not know where he is, or does not recognize people who should be familiar.

  • Your child has blurry or double vision.

  • Your child's speech becomes slurred or confused.

  • Your child has a bulging soft spot on his head.

  • Your child has weakness, loss of feeling, or new problems with coordination.

  • Your child's pupils are unequal in size.

  • Your child has a seizure.

  • You cannot wake your child.

  • Your child stops responding to you or passes out.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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