Minor Head Injury

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, being struck in the head, or a motor vehicle accident.

What are the symptoms of a minor head injury?

Right after the injury, you may be confused. Symptoms may last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. You 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

  • Drowsiness or decreased amount of energy

  • Change in how you sleep

How is a minor head injury diagnosed?

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

How is a minor head injury treated?

  • Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain. You can buy acetaminophen without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.

  • Ibuprofen: This medicine decreases pain and swelling. You can buy ibuprofen without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Ibuprofen can cause stomach bleeding and kidney damage if not taken correctly.

What are the risks of a minor head injury?

You may have more serious problems, such as bleeding or a blood clot in the brain. Each additional head injury you have may increase your 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 symptoms?

  • Rest: 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 injury for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.

  • Limit activity: Slowly return to your normal activities as directed. You may not be able to play sports or do activities that may result in a blow to the head.

  • Have someone wake you up at different times during the night as directed: Have the person ask you a few questions to see if you are thinking clearly. An example would be to ask your name or your address.

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • You or someone caring for you notices that you are harder to wake than usual.

  • Your symptoms get worse during the first few days after the injury.

  • You have new headaches that are severe or get worse in the days after the injury.

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

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have repeated or forceful vomiting.

  • You have blood or clear fluid coming out of your ears or nose.

  • You do not know where you are, or you do not recognize people who should be familiar.

  • You have blurry or double vision.

  • Your speech becomes slurred or confused.

  • You have arm or leg weakness, loss of feeling, or new problems with coordination.

  • Your pupils are unequal in size.

  • You have a seizure.

  • Someone tries to wake you and cannot do so.

  • You stop responding to others or you pass out.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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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