Every time we bump our heads we immediately start to wonder, “Is that serious?” or “Should I be concerned?” This is probably because of media coverage and social media stories that circulate about people who seemed to have just bumped their heads and end up dying within a day or so. In many of these cases death could have possibly been avoided if the patient had received proper treatment.
So how do you know when it’s really just a bump on the head and when it’s time to get to a doctor?
Where was the Head Impacted?
Pay special attention to injuries to the back of the head. This is due to the physics of the brain being pushed forward upon impact. The force of the impact pushes the brain against the front of the skull. This can cause damage to the frontal and temporal lobes that may not be noticeable right away.
Typically a bump on the front of the head will result in a large bump (aka: an egg on your head). While it looks awful you may not need medical attention unless the bump doesn’t start to shrink within 24 hours or if you start to experience any of the symptoms of brain injury.
Brain Injury Symptoms You Can’t Ignore
Symptoms can be immediate or delayed over the next day. Either way, pay attention to them and take action if the person who hit their head experiences ANY of the following:
- ANY loss of consciousness – even if it’s just briefly.
- A headache that just gets worse.
- Slurred speech. The injured person may not notice they’re slurring. If you’ve hit your head and others are telling you that you’re slurring, take their word for it and get to the doctor.
- Suddenly feeling the need to go to sleep.
- Inability to concentrate on what’s being discussed in a conversation. This could indicate frontal lobe damage and you should seek help.
- Dizziness for more than a minute or so right after the injury.
- Vomiting more than once or continuous nausea.
If there are any cuts you may want to be checked out to be sure there’s no fracture at the injured area. Significant bleeding should be seen by a doctor right away, even if none of the other symptoms are present.
Take special caution with head injuries since treatment of an injured brain could save a life! If you feel you need to have a head injury checked out immediately, seek help at an emergency room. If you start to notice symptoms during your doctor’s regular office hours call them to see what they recommend as your best course of action.