Head Injury Emergencies
We all get a bump on the head from time to time. A brain injury may not reveal symptoms for days, weeks, or months. It can be hard to tell the difference between a superficial head injury and one that is causing permanent damage to the brain. The victim may not be aware of the severity, even though it is apparent to observers.
Recognizing a head injury emergency
Obviously, if something has penetrated the skull, you need to seek emergency medical care. Most head injuries, however, are closed head injuries, and manifest no visible injury.
Seek emergency medical care if any of the following symptoms are present during the first few moments or days after a suspected head injury:
- Vacant or dazed expression
- Unable to remember the injury
- Unequal pupil size
- Clear fluid or blood coming from the nose or ear
- Excessive salivation
- Difficulty speaking
- Sleeping more than usual
- Difficult to wake up
- Loss of coordination
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Labored breathing
- Blurred or double vision
- Hearing loss
- Ringing ears
A head injury may not cause immediate symptoms. It can take several hours for enough swelling to develop in the brain, to cause symptoms to appear, but swelling and intracranial pressure can escalate quickly to a fatal level.
A serious brain injury does not always cause loss of consciousness. If the victim does lose consciousness, consider it an emergency, even if the loss of consciousness was very brief.
Fluid or blood leaking from the nose or ears is often an indication of a skull fracture.
Second impact syndrome
If a person who is healing from a previous brain injury sustains a second impact to the head, no matter how minor, consider it a medical emergency, before symptoms arise.
In second impact syndrome, the brain is suddenly unable to regulate blood flow. This causes rapid swelling, herniation of the brain, and brainstem failure. It is more likely to happen to teenagers than adults. Second impact syndrome can kill or cause permanent damage within just a few minutes. Don't wait for symptoms to appear.
When help can't be reached
If you are dealing with a head injury emergency under circumstances where you can't get medical help, there are some things that you should know.
- Do not leave the victim alone during the first twenty four hours after injury
- Wake the victim up every two hours and check for awareness
- Do not give the victim pain medication, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, or alcohol
- No strenuous activity for at least 24 hours
- Only small amounts of food should be given
If you or a loved one has suffered any type of traumatic brain injury in Washington DC, please email or call our skilled brain injury lawyers today. We are committed to obtaining justice for you - the victim.