Not every bump on the head warrants a visit to the ER. Though frightening, a mild blow to the skull can heal surprisingly quickly, especially if the damage is mostly to the skin. However, there are some reasons to go to the emergency room after a head injury that, if left unchecked, can lead to serious brain complications. The following signs and symptoms are clear indications that it’s time to head to the ER:

Immediately After the Accident
Immediately following a blow to the skull, any of these five signs is an indication that a serious injury has been sustained. Help the injured person seek medical help quickly if you notice:

  1. Loss of consciousness upon impact
  2. Confusion or disorientation
  3. Quick-developing headache with nausea or vomiting
  4. Obvious damage to the skull or penetrating injury
  5. Seizure

With any head injury, use your best judgment. If you or the injured person do not feel better within a few minutes of the incident, it is best to head to urgent care to be safe. If you believe an injury may be life-threatening, or if a concussed child does not regain consciousness within one minute’s time, call for immediate emergency medical help. 

In the First 24 Hours

Symptoms of brain injury and concussion do not always develop immediately following an accident. You may not have seen any reasons to go to the emergency room at first, but later notice worsening symptoms. Find an emergency room if you observe:

  1. Difficulty waking up from sleep
  2. Uncontrollable drowsiness at inappropriate times
  3. Signs of memory loss or amnesia
  4. Discharge coming from ears or nose
  5. Changes in eyesight or eye movements
  6. Large, erratic changes in mood or behavior
  7. Difficulty speaking, reading or writing
  8. Loss of feeling in part of the body
  9. Difficulty with walking and/or keeping balance

While head injuries should be taken seriously, symptoms can be minimized when patients seek appropriate medical care. A concussion left untended can lead to dangerous bleeding or swelling that puts pressure on the brain and can result in debilitating lifelong conditions. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek help– after all, there are over 7,000 urgent care clinics in the United States with professionals who can offer life-saving advice. By knowing these warning signs, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of head trauma