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Head injury

Head injury (also called concussion or brain injury) is a trauma to the head and brain.

Common causes of head injury are traffic accidents, occupational accidents, home accidents and falls. A head injury may cause a skull fracture, brain haemorrhage or a haematoma between the skull and the brain (subdural haematoma). Common symptoms are loss of consciousness, drowsiness, seizures and headache. A fluid drainage from nose, mouth or ear is strongly indicative of the tearing of sheaths surrounding the brain, and can lead to secondary brain infection.

Especially in case of a subdural haematoma, symptoms may worsen after a temporary incline in general health. So, even if the patient is conscious, any head trauma should be regarded as a medical emergency. In case of a head trauma and loss of consciousness, first the personís airway, breathing and circulation should be controlled (ABC of medical emergency) and then the head and neck should be stabilized and kept in line with the spinal cord. Any bleeding should be attempted to be stopped by firmly pressing a clean cloth (if the bleeding wound is on a suspected skull fracture no pressure should be applied).

Even people with slight head injuries, with no apparent signs or complaints, would better be observed cautiously. During the first 24 hours after the incident, an observer can wake the victim every 2-3 hours and ask specific questions (e.g. his/her address or occupation, or today's date). In case of vomiting, drowsiness, personality change or severe headache, the victim would better be transferred to a medical emergency unit. Mild headache and slight dizziness after a head injury is expected and does not necessarily require medical aid, if these symptoms are not persisting.

Continuous head injuries (caused e.g. by boxing) can lead to dementia or to a Parkinson's Disease-like syndrome (dementia pugilistica), in the long run.