Did You Hit Your Head?

A young man is in pain and is holding an ice pack on his head.March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month.  There is heightened awareness about brain injuries from sports or motor vehicle accidents.

But, you don’t always have to play sports or get into a crash to worry about brain injuries.

You can suffer a brain injury from everyday living. You can bump your head from a stumble or tumble in a dark room in the middle of the night. Did you ever get out of your vehicle too fast and bang your head on the door frame? Or, your dog greets you overzealously when you return home and bangs your head with a paw or makes you fall. Maybe, you get hit in the head removing something from a shelf.

These mishaps might seem small, irrelevant or non-traumatic but they can alter your brain function and pathology.

Even mild brain injuries can cause brief unconsciousness, dizziness, lethargy, neck pain, ringing in the ears, memory loss and headaches.

Serious Symptoms

More serious and traumatic injuries may have those symptoms plus others:

  • Prolonged headache
  • Lack of coordination
  • Agitation, confusion, restlessness
  • Slurred speech
  • Numbness or weakness in arms or legs
  • Dilated pupils in one or both eyes
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Inability to wake up from sleep

Safety First

There are some easy steps to take to minimize the brain injury risk in everyday living:

  • Wear protective helmets during sports or cycling
  • Use seatbelts in vehicles and drive carefully
  • Use stepstools when reaching for high items to avoid falls or falling items
  • Use the handrails when going up or down stairs
  • Prevent falls by making sure floors are clear of clutter like scattered children’s or dog toys
  • Be careful of your footing on a wet surface
  • Never enter a dark room quickly, use the light switch or flashlight to see objects

If you do bang your head and experience brief unconsciousness, dizziness, lethargy, neck pain, memory loss or persistent headaches, you should seek medical attention. Doctors use neurologic and imaging tests to make a diagnosis. Serious and traumatic brain injuries may need emergency treatment.

When in doubt, call 9-1-1. If you feel you need emergency care, call 9-1-1 or find a BayCare Emergency Room near you.