The Highway to Health - Bumped Heads

By: Tony Howarth

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 http://www.thehighwaytohealth.com/ 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.)

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