Head Injury

All significant head injuries, such as when loss of consciousness occurs, should be assessed in an Accident & Emergency department.

Minor Head Injuries

When you get home from hospital it is unlikely that you will have any further problems. But, if any of the following symptoms do return, we suggest you get someone to take you to your nearest hospital A&E department as soon as possible:

unconsciousness, or lack of full consciousness (for example, problems keeping eyes open) 
any confusion (not knowing where you are, getting things muddled up) 
any drowsiness (feeling sleepy) that goes on for longer than 1 hour when you would normally be wide awake 
any problems understanding or speaking 
any loss of balance or problems walking 
any weakness in one or more arms or legs 
any problems with your eyesight 
very painful headache that won't go away 
any vomiting
any fits (collapsing or passing out suddenly) 
clear fluid coming out of your ear or nose 
bleeding from one or both ears 
new deafness in one or both ears 

Things you shouldn't worry about

You may feel some other symptoms over the next few days which should disappear in the next 2 weeks. These include a mild headache, feeling sick (without vomiting), dizziness, irritability or bad temper, problems concentrating or problems with your memory, tiredness, lack of appetite or problems sleeping. If you feel very concerned about any of these symptoms in the first few days after your head injury, you should go and see your own doctor to talk about them. 

If these problems do not go away after 2 weeks, you should go and see your doctor. We would also recommend that you seek a doctor's opinion about your ability to drive a car or motorbike. 

Things that will help you get better 

If you follow this advice you should get better more quickly and it may help any symptoms you have to go away:

DO NOT stay at home alone for the first 48 hours after leaving hospital
DO make sure you stay within easy reach of a telephone and medical help
DO have plenty of rest and avoid stressful situations 
DO NOT take any alcohol or drugs 
DO NOT take sleeping pills, sedatives or tranquilisers unless they are given by a doctor
DO NOT play any contact sport (for example, rugby, football or polo) for at least 3 weeks without talking to your doctor first 
DO NOT return to your normal school, college or work activity until you feel you have completely recovered 
DO NOT drive a car, motorbike or bicycle or operate machinery unless you feel you have completely recovered 

Long-term problems 

Most patients recover quickly from their accident and experience no long-term problems. However, some patients only develop problems after a few weeks or months. If you start to feel that things are not quite right (for example, memory problems, not feeling yourself), then please contact your doctor as soon as possible so that you can be checked to make sure you are recovering properly.

This advice is based on the Guideline on Head Injury published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in June 2003. This advice is of a general nature and should not be relied in place of a competent medical authority.

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