Should You Seek Emergency Care After Hitting Your Head?

Most people have bumped their heads on a door frame, a cabinet door, or some other item from time to time. You may even get hit in the head when playing sports! Some bumps on the head are a minor annoyance, but others present a medical emergency. How do you know the difference? Here are some signs you should have someone take you to the urgent care facility after you've hit your head.

The bleeding won't stop.

Head wounds do bleed more than wounds on other parts of your body. This is because the veins and arteries in your head are close to the surface, and because the skin on your head is stretched tight. So don't be too alarmed if the scrape or cut on your head bleeds a bit more than one on your knee or elbow would. When you need to be alarmed is if you are still bleeding after 10 -15 minutes of holding a compress firmly against your head. This could be a sign that your injury needs stitches or further care.

You feel confused or dizzy.

People are often quick to shrug off a head injury because their head itself does not hurt too badly. But if you feel at all confused or dizzy, this could be a sign of a concussion. Confusion does not have to be so serious that you forget your name or the date, either. You might notice that it's taking you longer than normal to answer questions asked of you, or that you feel like you're in a bit of a haze. A concussion is an emergency since it can cause permanent brain injury if left untreated. 

You feel nauseous.

You may chalk the nausea you feel up to nerves or the frustration of having hit your head, but indeed, nausea is another possible sign of a concussion. As you are awaiting emergency care, try sucking on ice chips. This will help alleviate your nausea and also keep you hydrated, which could minimize your concussion symptoms in the long term.

You are very tired.

If, after hitting your head, you feel the sudden urge to take a nap -- just don't. Sleepiness is a sure sign of a concussion, but the most dangerous thing you can do with a concussion is take a nap. Have a friend or family member work to keep you awake. They can read to you, sing to you, engage you in rousing conversation, or even hold cold packs on your head to keep you alert.

Some head injuries are minor, but those that cause any of the symptoms above should be treated as emergencies.