Helping Seniors Live Healthier Lives

What To Expect When You Have A Head Injury

As most people go about their daily lives, they are not too concerned about any minor injuries they may sustain. A bruised shin here, a paper cut there, all seem fine and meaningless. However, when you bump your head on a hard surface, whether through a fall, collision, or other incident, even a seemingly minor injury can actually be very serious. When you sustain a head injury, there are important steps that you should take to determine what course of action needs to be taken. So, get to know these important steps so that you are prepared in the case of head injury in the future. 

Know The Worrisome Signs

Sometimes a bump on the head is just like any other everyday injury and can be ignored. However, there are certain symptoms that indicate the need for medical attention. If, for example, you lose consciousness when you hit your head or any time after the fact, a medical checkup is necessary. 

Additionally, blurred vision, impaired motor skills, impaired speech, seeing double, seeing spots, or the like are also cause for concern. While seemingly unrelated, nausea or vomiting immediately or within a few hours after you bump your head are worrisome signs as well. Any time you have one or more of these symptoms after you hit your head, you should have someone drive you to an emergency room as soon as possible. 

Know What To Expect In The ER

Once you get to the hospital, the doctors and nurses will ask you what happened and then run a series of diagnostic tests to determine the extent and severity of your injuries. Pupillary examinations to see how dilated your pupils are and to determine cognitive function will be the first tests administered. This is when the doctor shines a light in your eyes first to examine your eye and then to see if you can follow the light as it moves.

They will also talk to you and ask you questions to determine if your brain is functioning properly. Next, the doctor will likely order head scans just to be on the safe side. Depending on your responses to the initial tests, they will request a CT scan or an MRI.

CT scans are the less expensive diagnostic test and are completed very quickly. They can detect intracranial hemorrhages (brain bleeds) within about 10 minutes at most. MRI's while higher resolution can take hours to complete and are not used when a bleed is suspected or the scans are needed quickly. 

After all tests are complete, you may be sent home with orders to rest, may need to stay in the hospital for observation, or may need surgery depending on the extent of your head injury. By knowing what symptoms to watch out for and what to expect at the hospital, whether you require further medical intervention or not, you will be able to rest easy at night knowing that you did everything possible to protect your health following a head injury.