Minor Head Injuries: Emergency Room Tips
A head injury happens when there is any damage to the scalp, brain or skull. It can range from a mild bruise or bump to a traumatic brain injury.
Minor head injuries are prevalent in people of all ages and hardly result in permanent brain damage. It can be hard to assess the seriousness of a head injury just by looking at it.
Some minor head injuries may bleed a lot; therefore, it’s essential to treat them seriously by getting examined by a doctor or emergency physician.
So, What Causes a Minor Head Injury?
A minor head injury can occur due to blows to the head or as a result of violent shaking.
A blow to the head could be from motor vehicle accidents, physical assaults, sports-related accidents or falls. Injuries caused by shaking are common in small children and infants, but they can also occur in adults when they experience violent shaking.
Your skull protects your brain from severe damage. However, injuries can be severe enough to cause spine related injuries.
What Are the Symptoms of a Head Injury?
It’s important to be aware of, and be on the lookout for underlying symptoms. Being on the lookout is crucial because; many signs of brain injury won’t appear right away. It is essential continue monitoring such signs for several days after you injure your head.
Common symptoms of a minor head injury experienced by patients who check into FrontLine ER include:
- A headache
- A spinning sensation
- Mild confusion
- Temporary ringing in the ears
When Does a Minor Head Injury Require Medical Attention?
Minor head injuries should not go untreated. FrontLine ER is open round the clock. If you experience the symptoms but aren’t sure of the extent of the damage, be sure to visit your nearest facility to be checked out by the professionals. Seek help if symptoms persist after a day or two.
How Is a Minor Head Injury Treated?
Most people who visit FrontLine ER facilities with minor head injuries are permitted to return home shortly afterward, and will recover fully within a few days.
The first step at the ER will be to assess your head injury using the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). The scale is a 15-point test that gauges your mental status. A high GCS score indicates a minor injury.
Your doctor will then ask questions to understand the circumstances that led to this injury. It’s good to be accompanied by another person, should you be unable to remember the details of the accident.
The doctor will check for signs of trauma, including swelling and bruising. A neurological examination will be conducted to assess your nerve function by evaluating your muscle strength and control, sensation, eye movement, amongst other things.
Imaging tests are a common way to diagnose head injuries. A CT scan will help the doctor look for fractures, brain swelling, proof of bleeding and clotting, and any other physical damage.
Once you have stabilized, an MRI scan can also be ordered to offer a more comprehensive view of the brain.
Minor head injuries often show no symptoms save for pain at the location where the injury has been sustained. In such cases, you may be advised to take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) to ease the pain. Avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin (Bayer) or ibuprofen (Advil) as these can worsen any bleeding.
If there is a noticeable cut, your doctor may use staples or stitches to close it and then conceal it with a bandage. In as much as the wound is minor, observe your condition to make sure it doesn’t grow worse.
- Get enough sleep and rest after you have injured your head.
- You should be woken up every two hours to check for the development of any new symptoms.
- If your baby experiences a bump, knock, or blow to the head, sit them down, comfort them, and make sure they rest. You can also place a cold compress (ice wrapped in a tea towel) to their head.
Most patients who’ve had minor head injuries experience no lasting consequences. A small percentage of mild head injuries progress to a catastrophic injury. However, if you notice any new or worsening symptoms, you should go back to FrontLine ER for further tests and treatment.
Preventing Minor Head Injuries
It is not easy to predict or avoid a head injury; nevertheless, there are some steps you can take, be it at work, outdoors or at home to help reduce the risk of more severe injury. FrontLine ER recommends some protective measures you can consider at home; they include:
- Wearing a safety helmet when cycling, riding a motorbike or safety belts while driving
- Reducing hazards in the house that may cause a fall, for instance, drying up any spillages on the floor, securing floor rugs and any loose electric cords
- Childproofing your home
- Installing handrails or grab bars for the frail and elderly in the house
- Using the correct safety equipment during sports, at work or when doing DIY projects