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A head injury is any sort of injury to your brain, skull, or scalp. This can range from a mild bump or bruise to a traumatic brain injury. Common head injuries include concussions, skull fractures, and scalp wounds. The consequences and treatments vary greatly, depending on what caused your head injury and how severe it is. Head injuries may be either closed or open. An open penetrating head injury is one in which something breaks your scalp and skull and enters your brain.
It can be hard to assess how serious a head injury is just by looking. In general, head injuries can be divided into two based on what causes them. They can either be head injuries due to blows to the head or head injuries due to shaking.
Head injuries caused by shaking are most common in infants and small children , but they can occur any time you experience violent shaking. In most cases, your skull will protect your brain from serious harm. However, injuries severe enough to cause head injury can also be associated with injuries to the spine. A hematoma is a collection, or clotting, of blood outside the blood vessels. It can be very serious if a hematoma occurs in the brain.
The clotting can lead to pressure building up inside your skull. This can cause you to lose consciousness or result in permanent brain damage. A hemorrhage is uncontrolled bleeding. There can be bleeding in the space around your brain, called subarachnoid hemorrhage , or bleeding within your brain tissue, called intracerebral hemorrhage. Subarachnoid hemorrhages often cause headaches and vomiting. The severity of intracerebral hemorrhages depends on how much bleeding there is, but over time any amount of blood can cause pressure buildup.
A concussion occurs when the impact on the head is severe enough to cause brain injury. Generally speaking, the loss of function associated with a concussion is temporary. However, repeated concussions can eventually lead to permanent damage. Any brain injury can lead to edema , or swelling. This le to pressure buildup in your brain, causing your brain to press against your skull. This makes the skull very strong and difficult to break. Learn more about skull fractures. The damage to the brain cells in them not being able to function.
It can also result in swelling, causing more damage. It can lead to permanent brain damage and even death. Your head has more blood vessels than any other part of your body, so bleeding on the surface of your brain or within your brain is a serious concern in head injuries. However, not all head injuries cause bleeding. You should always continue to monitor your symptoms for several days after you injure your head. The symptoms of a severe head injury include many of the symptoms of minor head injuries.
They can also include:. See your doctor right away if you think you have the symptoms of a serious head injury. In particular, you should always seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:. Either call or your local emergency services or go to an emergency room. In the case of a potentially serious head injury, you should always call or your local emergency services. Motion can sometimes make a head injury worse.
Emergency medical personnel are trained to move injured people carefully without causing more damage. The GCS is a point test that assesses your mental status. A high GCS score indicates a less severe injury. Your doctor will need to know the circumstances of your injury. It will be important for your doctor to determine if you lost consciousness and for how long if you did.
Your doctor will also examine you to look for s of trauma, including bruising and swelling. During this exam, your doctor will evaluate your nerve function by assessing your muscle control and strength, eye movement, and sensation, among other things. Imaging tests are commonly used to diagnose head injuries. A CT scan will help your doctor look for fractures, evidence of bleeding and clotting , brain swelling, and any other structural damage. You may also receive an MRI scan.
This can offer a more detailed view of the brain. With minor head injuries, there are often no symptoms other than pain at the site of the injury. In these cases, you may be told to take acetaminophen Tylenol for the pain. These can make any bleeding worse. If you have an open cut, your doctor may use sutures or staples to close it. But you should be woken up every two hours or so to check for any new symptoms. You should go back to the doctor if you develop any new or worsening symptoms. You may need to be hospitalized if you have a serious head injury.
The treatment you receive at the hospital will depend on your diagnosis. You may be given diuretics if your injury has caused pressure buildup in your brain. Diuretics cause you to excrete more fluids. This can help relieve some of the pressure. If your injury is very serious, you may be given medication to put you in an induced coma. This may be an appropriate treatment if your blood vessels are damaged. It may be necessary to do emergency surgery to prevent further damage to your brain.
For example, your doctor may need to operate to:. The outlook depends on the severity of your injury. Severe head injuries in childhood can be particularly concerning. Your healthcare team will work with you to ensure that you have as full of a recovery as possible. Concussions can cause serious symptoms that require medical treatment. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that in an altered mental….
There are many types of skull fractures, but only one major cause. Get the facts on fractures and learn about diagnosis and treatment. This can occur when someone is drowning, choking, suffocating, or in cardiac arrest. Post-concussion syndrome refers to lingering symptoms after a concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury TBI. An aneurysm in the brain is a weak area in an artery in the brain that bulges out and fills with blood. It can be unpredictable and life-threatening….
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Head Injury. Medically reviewed by Seunggu Han, M. What causes a head injury? What are the major types of head injuries? What are the symptoms of a head injury? When does a head injury require medical attention? How is a head injury diagnosed? How is a head injury treated? Read this next. Medically reviewed by Elaine K. Luo, M. Skull Fractures. Brain Hypoxia. Post-Concussion Syndrome. Brain Aneurysm. Medically reviewed by Graham Rogers, M. Medically reviewed by Ann Marie Griff, O. The Best Traumatic Brain Injury Blogs of Those living with traumatic brain injury TBI must often learn to cope with changes to behavior, cognitive ability, and communication.
Skull X-Ray. Medically reviewed by Daniel Murrell, M. Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.Need some head badly
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Head injuries and concussion