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What is a serious head injury?

A serious head injury can have symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, visual changes, trouble walking and light sensitivity. These can be signs of concussion and need quick evaluation. Serious head injuries require very quick evaluation and a computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan to make sure the person doesn't have a surgical emergency such as bleeding on the brain.
Head injuries can range from mild to moderate to severe. It's important to know that even injuries that leave no visible bruising, bleeding or other signs can cause serious internal injury to the brain. This can lead to swelling or bleeding in the brain, and life-threatening symptoms that require prompt medical treatment. Signs and symptoms of a moderate or severe head injury that needs immediate treatment include:
  • A severe headache that doesn't get better
  • Sleepiness, trouble staying awake or trouble waking up
  • Nausea and vomiting that doesn't get better
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Dilated pupils
  • Confusion or irritability
  • Trouble speaking or slurred speech
  • Trouble walking or loss of balance
  • Weak or numb arms or legs

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.