The Highway to Health - Bumped Heads

I recently had a reader send me this comment:

"As a full-time dad I have to deal with just about every minor illness my two children pickup, everything from a bump on the head to chicken pox. I found the Highway to Health ebook very useful and it's one of the first things I reach for when something goes wrong!"

Mr John Bradbury
United Kingdom

It got me thinking - although the Highway to Health does cover headaches, perhaps going into a little more detail about 'bumps on the head' would be useful. So here we go...

There are two main types of head injury - concussion and compression.

*Concussion* is the commonest:

  • It's when your brain gets 'shaken' inside your head. Like anything, it gets a little bruising. Like any bruise it heals with time.

  • It can be caused by all sorts of things:

    • Kids banging heads, perhaps playing sport.

    • A child recently ran in to a coffee table and got concussion.

    • Falling off things, running into things, tripping over...

  • It's common and not too serious.

  • You might feel a bit shaken up at first, might even pass out for a few moments, but not for long.

  • You could feel dizzy or confused as well.

  • You'll have a headache - but you knew that, right?

  • You'll probably get a bruise or bump on the outside too.

  • You might feel or be sick, but this will pass.

  • Your vision might get blurred, but this passes.

    Sit down and take it easy.

    Put a cold compress (e.g. wet sponge) on the bump.

    Try not to worry - or if it's a child, try to reassure and comfort them.

    Five to ten minutes later, you should be feeling a whole lot better. The headache won't have gone yet, but it will settle. You might still feel sick, but everything else should have cleared.

    Now you can take whatever pain relief you'd usually have for the headache (and see for a whole chapter on relieving headaches).

    Take it easy for the next three days.

    Keep a watch out for the signs & symptoms below (and have someone else watch out for you too).

    You'll soon be wondering what the fuss was about!

    *Compression* is the other type of head injury:

    • Just like anything that gets injured, your brain can swell.

    • This is bad news - it's trapped inside your skull and has nowhere to swell to.

    • So you get a build-up of pressure on your brain, which causes problems.

    • It is usually caused by something a bit more severe than a bump on the head

      • more like a bat over the head, or a bigger fall, or a traffic accident.

    • This often starts out like concussion, but doesn't get better in a few minutes.

    • That feeling of sickness gets worse, and you start to be sick a lot more often.

    • The headache just gets worse, even when you've treated it.

    • The dizziness or confusion will get worse, and you might pass out for a lot longer. You might have a fit or convulsion.

    • Your vision might blur and keep getting worse.

    You need the hospital - and quickly! Anyone who has these symptoms goes straight to hospital. Even if it started out as concussion, this can take up to 72 hours to develop (It's commonest within the first four hours).

    About The Author

    Tony Howarth is a UK qualified pharmacist. After graduation he studied for a PhD - this looked at ways people use the Internet to access health information and included methods of making the information easier to understand. He then spent several years in a local pharmacy (where he still works) to understand just what people want to know about and have problems with. Now that information is here!;

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