My 2 year old son fell yesterday, bumping his head. He cried, was sick and a short time later curled up on the sofa and went to sleep. I was really scared and took him to the doctor to be checked over. Please tell me how I should deal with head injuries?
Children often bang their heads and it is difficult to tell whether they are serious or not. Fortunately, most head injuries affect the scalp only, which is usually more frightening than life threatening – the head and face are very vascular and consequently injuries bleed an awful lot.
However, severe or repeated head injuries can cause damage to the brain and that is why you need to look out for any signs of brain involvement.
What to look for and what to do:
• Phone an ambulance if your child is an infant who has lost consciousness, even momentarily; or if a child of any age has any of these symptoms:
o won’t stop crying
o has trouble breathing, or is unnaturally drowsy or fitting
o complains of head and neck pain
o isn’t walking normally
o vomits more than once
o pupils don’t react swiftly and evenly when a torch is shone into them, or they have unequal pupils or a weakness down one side of their body.
o Signs of an obvious skull fracture or fluid seeping from the ears or nose.
• If your child is not an infant, has not lost consciousness, and is alert and behaving normally after the injury;
o Apply a wrapped ice pack or instant cold pack to the injured area for 10 minutes.
o give paediatric ibuprofen or paracetamol to ease their pain.
o Let them go to sleep – there is no need to keep a child awake after a head injury, however do check them regularly. If you aren’t comfortable with your child’s appearance (trust your instincts), partially wake them by sitting them up, they should object and attempt to resettle. If they don’t, try to waken them fully. If your child won’t wake up, call an ambulance immediately.
o Keep an eye on your child over the next couple of days, look out for any of the above symptoms – call an ambulance if worried.
If your child is unconscious:
• If breathing – roll into the recovery position (on their side so that their tongue falls forward in their mouth and any vomit can drain away), try not to twist their neck or spine at all. Any head injury may cause spinal damage as the head recoils from the blow.
• If they are not breathing start CPR.
• Call an ambulance.
First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information
It is strongly advised that parents attend a practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.
First Aid for Life
0208 675 4036