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First aid: Head injury

Head trauma/injury is an injury to any part of the head, like a skull, scalp, spinal fluid, blood vessels, etc. There may be external or internal tissue involvement, and injury can range from a mild bruise to a significant traumatic brain injury.

Different types of head injuries:

  • Open, where the wounds  bleed to the face (nose) or head
  • Closed, where no signs of injury to the head or face are visible

What can be the symptoms of head injury?


The symptoms of head injury can differ from person to person.

If the patient is an adult, then the symptoms seen are:

  • Head and nose or facial bleeding
  • Headache
  • the level of consciousness might alter with time
  • the discoloration of the skin below the eyes and behind the ears
  • loss of balance, breathlessness
  • weakness and the temporary inability of limbs
  • Dizziness
  • blurred vision

The symptoms in children can be similar to those in adults. They are accompanied by a persistent cry, a soft spot on the head in infants, vomiting, and a Refusal to eat.

What is the cause of head injury?

The sole reason is physical injury. If the head injury is external, then it is evident that the patient has met with an accident. Still, if the head injury is internal, then the reason behind that can be any history of physical injury. Any attacks of violence, accidents, collisions, sports injuries, explosive mishaps, etc., can cause head trauma.

Who has more risk of head injury?

  • Elderly people
  • Children
  • Alcohol and drug users.
  • Any person who has a history of physical injury or has met with an accident recently can fall prey to head trauma.

Call for urgent medical help if the patient :

  • The patient is sleepy, confused, tired, or unconscious.
  • Has slurred speech
  • There is a severe headache or stiff neck
  • Has seizures
  • The size of the dark central part of the eye (pupil) becomes unequal
  • Vomits more often.

Initial steps of checking the patient’s condition

The initial stage of first aid is checking the state of the patient. Follow the steps mentioned below first before you approach the first aid methods for head trauma:

  • Checking the breathing and airway: The patient’s respiration must not be interrupted. As the body’s oxygen requirement increases, the patient’s airways must support the body’s ability to breathe well.
  • Encouraging the person to stay conscious: Staying conscious always helps, and losing consciousness can risk the patient’s life. Instruct and encourage the patient to try to stay alert until the medical facility arrives.
  • If there is any tendency to vomit, take care of the airway: When a head trauma patient vomits, take care. Vomiting in an unconscious person can lead to choking. Lay the person on his side. If needed, start CPR.

First aid of head injury:

Mild cases of head injury can be treated well with first aid. But first aid also becomes compulsory in severely hurt patients when medical facilities are not readily available. Without proper first aid, The patient’s life can be at massive risk.

  • If the injury is mild, then a cold treatment is enough. Applying a pack of ice can help reduce the swelling and treat the blood clot in the area. If there is pain, the patient can take Tylenol(paracetamol). Without consulting a doctor, do not give medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, etc..
  • Keep the patient in a quiet place with a slightly elevated head and shoulder. If bleeding from the head, use sterile gauze and try stopping the blood flow with gentle pressure. If it becomes soaked in blood, do not remove it; put another cloth over it. Above all, keep on checking the breathing and alertness of the patient.
  • If you think there is a skull fracture, do not put direct pressure on the wound. Do not try to clear any debris from the wound. Cover the injury with a sterile gauze dressing.
  • If the person’s heart rate and breathing are normal, but he is unconscious, treat it as a spinal injury. Steady the head and neck by putting your hands on both sides of the patient’s head. Put the head in the line of the spine and prevent any movement. Call for medical assistance at once.
  • The severe injuries undeniably seek the immediate attention of health experts. In such cases, please stay by the patients and check their consciousness. Do not move a patient with severe head trauma.

What can be the precautions for a head injury?

You can find the necessary precautionary steps enlisted in the following pointers:

  • Avoiding accidents: It takes a lot of care to stay aware and safe every time, wherever you are. Try not to get stuck in violent acts and avoid such incidents.
  • Abiding by traffic instructions: A few rules, such as always wearing seat belts, wearing helmets, and abiding by other traffic rules, can help you protect yourself from severe head injuries or head trauma. The key focus must always be on having a safe environment.


Have an idea about first aid that might help you in an emergency. One must focus on staying safe and avoiding accidents. Still, you cannot avoid mishaps every time. Hence, your first aid knowledge can make a significant difference if someone around you experiences head trauma.
  1. Medline Plus 
    trauma firstaid
  2. Better Health Australia 


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