When to see a doctor if you bump your head

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 64,000 people died from traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2020. Although not every blow to the head results in a TBI, it is important to know what to do if you bump your head.

Types of Traumatic Brain Injury

There are three types of TBI: mild TBI (also known as concussion), moderate TBI, and severe TBI. These injuries are most often caused by falls and car accidents. Even banging your head against a cabinet, for example, could cause mild TBI.

Traumatic brain injury can cause short- or long-term health problems, depending on the severity. For example, if you suffer from a mild concussion from a sports injury, you will probably feel better in a few weeks or months. But if you sustain a moderate to severe head injury or repeated concussions, you could experience lifelong side effects.

TBI in children

Head injuries can affect children differently than adults. Even mild TBI can affect a child’s development and ability to participate in school, sports, and other activities. If your child bumps their head, they should be evaluated by a medical professional.

TBI in the elderly

Head injuries are more likely to cause hospitalization and death in older people. Head injuries often go unnoticed or misdiagnosed in this age group. This could be because the symptoms are mistaken for other conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Also, some older people take blood thinners, which can increase the risk of bleeding in the brain.

Prevention of head injuries

Here are some tips to reduce your risk of head injury.

Drive or ride safely: Always wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Never drive after drinking alcohol or using drugs.

To wear a helmet: Both adults and children should use a properly fitted helmet when playing contact sports such as football; riding a bicycle, scooter, all-terrain vehicle (four wheels) or snowmobile; skateboarding or skating; batting or running bases in softball or baseball; ride a horse; and skiing or snowboarding.

Make your home safer: Remove or secure tripping hazards such as clutter, cords, loose rugs and broken handrails. If you have young children, add sand or mulch to the ground under your child’s play area, install window guards to prevent them from opening windows, and install safety gates at the top and bottom of your stairs and from the bumpers to the sharp corners of tables and chairs. .

Review your medication list: Ask your pharmacist or primary care provider to review your list of medications (including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements, and prescriptions) to see if they can make you drowsy or dizzy, which can increase your risk of falling.

Consider your strength and balance: If you have balance issues, ask your healthcare professional about physical therapy or exercises you can do to improve your strength and balance.

Have your eyesight checked annually: See your optometrist or ophthalmologist for eye screening every year. Make sure your glasses or contacts are the correct prescriptions.

When to Seek Medical Care

You should seek emergency medical attention if you hit your head and lose consciousness, have blurred vision, severe headache, nausea or vomiting, one pupil larger than the other, confusion, or thinking problems, weakness, lack of coordination, difficulty speaking, drowsiness. or difficulty waking up, or convulsion. You should also seek urgent medical attention if you are taking blood thinners, are 65 or older, have a bleeding disorder, or have osteopenia, which increases the risk of skull fractures . It is important to note that these symptoms require emergency care at a local hospital. Emergency care cannot provide services to fully assess the severity of these symptoms.

A healthcare provider should also assess people who have difficulty describing their symptoms, such as young children or those with memory problems or other forms of cognitive impairment.

If you hit your head and have suffered a cut that may require stitches and you do not have any of the serious symptoms described, you can go to an urgent care center. An urgent care visit is also a good idea if you have questions or concerns about your injury, or to determine if you need a higher level of care. Sometimes mild TBI or concussion symptoms can take hours or days to appear. If you have been assessed by a medical professional after a head injury, but experience a change or worsening of symptoms once you are home, seek a reassessment immediately.

Student-athletes who sustain a head injury should be assessed by their athletic trainer for signs of concussion and cleared by the coach before returning to play.

To find a provider near you, visit www.pardeehospital.org.

Jessica Rae Brookshire is a Certified Physician Assistant at Pardee Urgent Care.