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Minor head injuries are common in people of all ages and should not result in any permanent damage.
The symptoms of a minor head injury are usually mild and short lived. Symptoms may include:
However, with any head injury it is important to make sure that there are no symptoms of a severe head injury.
If there are serious symptoms go to the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your local hospital straight away or call for an ambulance. This is particularly important if you lose consciousness, even if it's only for a short period of time.
The most common causes of head injuries are falls, assaults and road traffic accidents. Children may be more likely to have a minor head injury because they have high energy levels and little sense of danger.
Read more information about causes of minor head injuries.
See your doctor if you’re concerned about a minor head injury.
Otherwise, try not to be alone for the first 48 hours after the injury or, if your child has a minor head injury, continue to monitor them for any new symptoms. It is also important to rest and avoid aggravating the injury with stressful situations or contact sports until you or your child are fully recovered.
Read more information about treating a minor head injury.
Serious complications from a minor head injury are rare.
Possible complications include long-term headaches, memory loss or difficulty concentrating. Some people may experience long-term symptoms after a minor head injury that involves concussion, known as post-concussional syndrome (PCS).
Although it can be difficult to predict or avoid a head injury, there are some steps you can take to help reduce the risk of more serious injury.
Read more information about preventing a minor head injury.
Minor head injuries often cause a bump or bruise. As long as the person is conscious (awake), with no deep cuts, there is unlikely to have been any damage to the brain.
Other symptoms of a minor head injury may include:
If you or your child experience these mild symptoms after a knock, bump or blow to the head, you do not require any specific treatment.
If your child has sustained a head injury, observe them closely for 48 hours to monitor whether their symptoms change or worsen. If you have sustained a head injury, ask a friend or family member to stay with you for the following 48 hours to keep an eye on you.
If your child has a minor head injury, they may cry or be distressed. This is normal and, with attention and reassurance, most children will settle down. However, seek medical assistance if your child continues to be distressed.
If, following a knock to the head, you notice any of the symptoms below in either you or your child, seek immediate medical assistance:
If any of these symptoms are present, particularly a loss of consciousness (even if only for a short period of time), go immediately to the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your local hospital or call for an ambulance.
Minor head injuries are common in people of all ages and can be caused in many different ways.
The most common causes of a minor head injury are:
It is also thought that alcohol may be a factor in up to 65% of adult head injuries.
Other causes of minor head injuries in young people and adults include accidents at home, sports-related injuries and industrial accidents (for example, falls while at work).
Some groups appear to be more at risk of a head injury than others. Often:
Children are very active and often have little sense of danger, which is why most children will have some kind of head injury while they are growing up. Some of the more common ways that children may experience a head injury include falls from:
Read more information about accidents to children in the home.
Childhood head injuries may also occur as a result of cycling accidents or road traffic accidents.
Read more information about preventing minor head injuries.
As long as your head injury is minor you don't need to visit your doctor or hospital for treatment. If you have signs of a severe head injury get immediate medical help.
Read a list of the symptoms of a severe head injury to find out when you need urgent medical attention.
If you are concerned about a head injury, see your doctor. Otherwise, follow the advice below.
If you have a minor head injury:
Go to a hospital accident and emergency (A&E) department if you:
If your child has a minor head injury:
Take your child back to the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your local hospital if they:
Go to A&E if your baby has a minor head injury and continues to cry for a long time.
Many head injuries are the result of accidents that are difficult to predict or avoid. However, there are some ways to reduce your risk of a severe head injury.
Cyclists and motorcyclists can protect their head by wearing a properly fitting safety helmet. British Standard safety helmets are a legal requirement for motorcyclists.
However, it is difficult to know for certain the benefit of cycle helmets. This is because data about road accidents that involve cyclists may not contain all of the relevant information. For example, the data may not explain where exactly the head injury occurred, which makes it difficult to determine whether a helmet might have prevented the injury.
As well as wearing a helmet when cycling, you should also make sure that both you and your children:
Following sensible health and safety guidelines can help prevent accidents in the home. Some advice to help keep your home and garden as safe as possible includes:
It is not possible to childproof your home completely. However, you can take steps to keep toddlers and young children safe at home, for example by:
Read more information about preventing accidents to children in the home.
To reduce the risk of sustaining a head injury at work, always follow any necessary health and safety guidelines. For example, you may have to wear a hard hat and safety shoes when working in potentially hazardous areas.
Only use ladders in a workplace environment for short-term, light work. Any work that requires spending a considerable amount of time at height, or involves heavy lifting, should be carried out on scaffolding or another suitable platform.
Any work that involves going up onto a roof should also be considered high-risk and therefore high standards of safety are essential.
Wear any necessary safety equipment when playing sports, particularly contact sports. Do not play any contact sports after a head injury without first consulting your doctor.
If you have sustained a minor head injury, there is a small risk that complications will develop. For a few days after the injury, look out for more serious symptoms.
Read about symptoms of a severe head injury for a list of the symptoms that require urgent medical attention.
Some people may experience long-term symptoms after sustaining concussion from a minor head injury. This could be post-concussional syndrome. Symptoms include:
Read more information about post-concussional syndrome (PCS).
See your doctor if you still experience these symptoms a few weeks after sustaining a minor head injury. Your doctor may recommend that you reduce your daily activities to a more manageable level and change your sleeping pattern.
The above symptoms usually clear up in around three months but, if necessary, you may need to be referred for further assessment. This could be with a neurologist, who specialises in problems of the nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves), or a psychiatrist (a mental health specialist).
If you experience any complications from your head injury, you may find it useful to talk to someone about it.
You may be able to access:
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.