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Head Injuries

Head Injuries

Dispatcher Files Symptoms Head injuries can cause a wide variety of symptoms, depending on the type of injury, its severity and its location. Doctors classify head injuries into three categories, based on the symptoms: Mild head injury — There is minimal injury to the outside of the head, with no loss of consciousness. The injured

Dispatcher Files

Symptoms

Head injuries can cause a wide variety of symptoms, depending on the type of injury, its severity and its location. Doctors classify head injuries into three categories, based on the symptoms:

  1. Mild head injury — There is minimal injury to the outside of the head, with no loss of consciousness. The injured person may vomit once or twice and complain of a headache.
  2. Moderate head injury — There is a more obvious injury to the outside of the head, and the person may have lost consciousness briefly. Other symptoms can include memory loss (amnesia), headache, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting, confusion, a bruise-like discoloration around the eyes or behind the ear, or a clear fluid oozing from the nose. This fluid is not mucus, but fluid from around the brain (cerebrospinal fluid) that has leaked through a skull fracture near the nose.
  3. Severe head injury — There is serious damage to the outside of the head, often together with injuries involving the neck, arms or legs or major body organs. In most cases, the person is either unconscious or barely responsive. However, some people become agitated or physically aggressive. About 10% of people with severe head injury have seizures.

Diagnosis

All head injuries should be evaluated promptly by a doctor, so either call for emergency help or have a friend or family member drive you to an emergency department. 

Once you arrive at the emergency department, the doctor will want to know:

  • How you hurt your head, including the height of your fall or your position (front seat, back seat, driver) if you were involved in a car accident.
  • Your immediate reaction to the injury, especially any loss of consciousness or memory loss. If you are with a person who has a head injury for example on a sports field, ask the player if he or she remembers the play that happened right before the injury. If memory is not perfect, this injury should be counted as a concussion, even if the person did not lose consciousness.
  • Any symptoms that occurred soon after the injury, such as vomiting, headache, confusion, sleepiness or seizures.
  • Your current medications, including non-prescription drugs.
  • Your past medical history, especially any neurological problems (stroke, epilepsy, etc.), any prior episodes of head injury, and your recent alcohol use if you have been drinking.
  • Whether you are having pain in your neck, chest, abdomen, arms or legs.

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*Dispatcher files are reports detailing the experience of the dispatcher as they deal with emergencies and so are recorded after the fact.

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