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Head Injuries in Children: Problems to Watch For

Topic Overview

What to watch for after a head injury

A minor head injury is sometimes hard to distinguish from a more serious injury to the brain even when there is no visible bleeding or injury on the outside of the skull.

Check for the following changes immediately after a head injury:

  • A significant change in the child's level of consciousness
  • Confusion or not acting normal, such as extreme fussiness or crying that cannot be comforted
  • Abnormally deep sleep, trouble waking up, or extreme sleepiness
  • Vomiting
  • Symptoms that affect one side of the body more than the other side, such as weakness or problems moving an arm or leg
  • Loss of vision
  • Seizure

A decrease in level of consciousness following a head injury may signal a life-threatening problem caused by bleeding, injury, or swelling within or around the brain. A child's level of consciousness can deteriorate suddenly or gradually. This change can be permanent or temporary.

If a parent or caregiver can't be sure that a child was conscious following a head injury, a visit to a doctor is needed for further evaluation.

Credits

Current as of: April 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine

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