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I Hit My Head… How Do I Know if it’s Serious? A Head Injury Guide

There you are, just going through your day-to-day life when you manage to bash your head.

If you pay attention to medical science at all, you know immediately that just because you’re not bleeding… well, that doesn’t mean everything is okay.

So, you’re asking yourself, “I hit my head, how do I know if it’s serious?”

Well, you’re in the right place. Read on and we’ll discuss the various types of head injury and some of the complications that can occur if you bonk your head just the right way.

I Hit My Head, How Do I Know If It’s Serious?

In many cases, head injuries show immediate effects as soon as the injury occurs. Scalp cuts, for instance, are infamous for causing dramatic blood loss due to the concentration of blood vessels under the skin.

That doesn’t mean it’s “serious” however, a couple of surgical staples in the scalp is no one’s idea of a great afternoon but the visible damage is just the tip of the iceberg.

In many cases, dangerous injuries aren’t readily apparent. A cracked skull or broken nose from a fall or bump are obvious, but the real danger lurks underneath the cranium.

Before reading on, immediately call for medical attention if any of the following symptoms are present in you or someone else who’s injured their head:

  • Any loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Disorientation

All of these are signs to not question things and head to the ER immediately.

Remember that your judgment may be impaired after a hard hit to the head, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry when we’re talking about head injuries.

If you have any second thoughts at all go see a doctor.

The Types of Head Injury

There are a ton of different complications that come from head injuries, some more obvious than others.

The most obvious is tissue trauma. The skin over our skulls is pretty thin, filled with veins, and readily bleeds if something hits hard enough to cause the skin to break.

For the most part, this damage is relatively superficial despite the dramatic visual effect.

Blood clots quickly and any ER doctor should be able to suture or staple the wound shut in short order. You’re not in the clear, but the superficial exterior trauma pales in comparison to the hidden damage.

Concussions can range from mild to severe. For the most part, concussions can be described as a relatively minor form of traumatic brain injury(TBI).

What happens is pretty simple: your head got knocked hard enough that your brain crashed into the inside of your skull. A concussion is the result of this and in virtually every case where physical trauma causes someone to lose consciousness, even briefly a concussion results.

For the most part, a trip to the doctor will sort out this type of injury.

There are other complications that can result from head injuries, however, and are invisible to the naked eye. Sometimes the person who suffered the wound may even feel fine despite the lurking danger.

For instance, an acute subdural hematoma, an injury in which the brain bleeds inside the skull, can seem minor until the compression causes further complications.

The only real way to be sure of your safety after a hard knock?

A CAT scan at the local ER.

Long Term Effects of TBI

Acute injuries are bad enough, but over time repeated concussions and other injuries can cause cumulative effects over a person’s lifetime.

If you followed the recent scandal with the NFL and chronic head injuries you’re probably aware of this. Boxers, soldiers, football players, and others who are at high risk for repeated hard hits to the head can begin to suffer from a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy(CTE).

What you might not know is that even a single concussion can have effects that last from days to months to even permanent damage and changes in behavior.

The main causes of TBI come from accidents at work or in automobiles, at least for the general population. The truth is that there are a ton of ways to hit your head, however, and a couple degrees of turning can be the difference between a serious injury and a goose egg.

Even worse, the long term effects can show up much later than the injury itself. For that reason, your first step after any significant blow to the head should be to go to a doctor.

Since a TBI can result in a lifelong condition, many people find themselves speaking to an injury attorney in the immediate aftermath of the event. You can learn more about the process online, and it’s a good idea since it can be days to weeks before you know for sure whether you’re in the clear.

Bottom Line? Get it Checked Out

The truth is that if you’re asking yourself “I hit my head, how do I know if it’s serious?” it’s time to go see a doctor. The complications which can occur in even a seemingly minor head injury aren’t worth risking.

Remember: it’s the stuff inside your brainpan that you should really be worried about. Symptoms can take time to manifest after a head injury, so check in at the ER at the earliest available opportunity.

Head injuries are a frightening prospect, but as long as you get things thoroughly checked as soon as possible you’ll be fine.

So, if you think that last little bump could be something serious… it could. Better safe than sorry, and the faster you’re examined the better.

Check out the rest of our site for more on the job advice.