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Head Injury


A 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.



You may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain. Acetaminophen is available 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.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Someone tries to wake you and cannot do so.

Return to the emergency department 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.
  • You stop responding to others or you faint.

Contact your healthcare provider 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.


  • Rest or do quiet activities for the first 24 hours. 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.
  • 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.
  • Have someone wake you 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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 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.

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.