Merck Manual

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Recognizing a Serious Head Injury

Recognizing a Serious Head Injury

Most head injuries are not serious. A serious head injury can be recognized based on certain symptoms. Many of these symptoms indicate that brain functioning is worsening. If any of them occur, medical attention should be sought immediately.

  • Vomiting, irritability, or drowsiness that continues for more than 6 hours

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Inability to move or feel part of the body

  • Inability to recognize people or the surroundings

  • Inability to maintain balance

  • Problems with speaking or seeing (for example, slurred speech, blurred vision, or blind spots)

  • Drainage of clear fluid (cerebrospinal fluid) from the nose or ear

  • Severe headache