Head Trauma - When to Get Help

Armen Hareyan's picture

Head Injury

You trip, hit your head and see stars. You get bonked on the head - hard - with a ball. At some time, most of us suffer a bump to the noggin. Fortunately, most head injuries are minor and can be treated with basic first aid.

But head injury can also be life-threatening. This is particularly true if it involves a loss of consciousness, even if only briefly. Another concern after serious head injury is possible unseen bleeding that affects the brain. Bleeding on the surface of the brain or within the brain is serious, as it may compress and damage the brain.

The June 2005 issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter recommends emergency care and evaluation if any of the following occur after head trauma:

  • Loss of consciousness, sometimes occurring a few hours after the injury

  • Dazed or confused feeling

  • Memory loss

  • Nausea or vomiting


  • Partial paralysis

  • Partial sensory loss

  • New neck pain

  • Numbness or weakness of the extremities

  • Unusual or prolonged headache

  • Bruising or discoloration around the eyes or behind the ears

  • Blood or clear, watery fluids coming from the ears or nose.