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Head Injury Treatment

Call 911 if the person has any of the following symptoms:

  • Blood or clear fluids coming from the ears or nose
  • Slurred speech
  • Unconsciousness, confusion, dizziness, or drowsiness
  • Unequal pupil size or blurred or double vision

  • Blood or clear fluids coming from the ears or nose
  • Slurred speech
  • Unconsciousness, confusion, dizziness, or drowsiness
  • Unequal pupil size or blurred or double vision

Unless the airway is blocked, do not move the person until a medical team arrives and checks for a spinal cord injury.

1. Do Hands-Only CPR, if Necessary

If the person is unconscious or not breathing, do ONLY chest compressions.

2. For Mild or Moderate Head Injuries

  • To control bleeding, apply clean dressings directly to scalp or facial cuts.
  • To control swelling, apply ice for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 to 4 hours.
  • For headache, give over-the-counter acetaminophen. Do not use aspirin, ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory drugs, which can increase the risk of bleeding.

3. When to See a Doctor

See a doctor immediately if the person experiences:

  • Increased drowsiness
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Loss of strength in the hands or feet
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Worsening headache

4. Follow Up

  • Do not leave the person alone for 24 hours.
  • Check the person every 2 hours for alertness.
  • Look for new symptoms, such as confusion, vomiting, unequal pupils, or unusual behavior.
  • If symptoms persist or get worse, see a doctor. The doctor will do an exam and may do blood tests, an X-ray, a CT or CAT scan, or an EEG.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on October 15, 2013

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