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First Aid: Head Injuries

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD

First Aid

Most childhood head injuries are minor and hurt only the outside of the head. On rare occasions, a severe head injury can cause bruising or bleeding in the brain. This type of head injury requires immediate medical attention.

Signs and Symptoms

Of a mild head injury:

Of a potentially serious head injury:

  • loss consciousness (passing out)
  • unable to respond
  • obvious serious wound
  • blood or clear fluid from the nose or ear
  • changes in behavior, such as agitation, confusion, or being very sleepy
  • trouble remembering what happened
  • dizziness or stumbling
  • seizure
  • vomiting more than twice or vomiting hours after the injury
  • severe or worsening headache

What to Do

  • Call 911 for any serious head injury. Do not move an unconscious child. If your child is not breathing, do CPR, if you know how, while you wait for help.
  • Call the doctor right away if an infant has a head injury or a child of any age has neck pain or won't stop crying after a head injury.
  • Allow your child to sleep if he or she is tired.

Think Prevention!

  • Childproof your house.
  • Don't use infant walkers.
  • Make sure kids wear protective gear for contact sports, biking, skating, and skateboarding.
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: June 2018