Adult head injury

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This is advice for people aged over 12 years who have sustained a head injury and have been discharged from the Emergency Department.

We have checked your symptoms and think you are well enough to leave hospital and go home. If any of these symptoms return, we advise you to come back, or go to your nearest Emergency Department:

  • Unconsciousness, or lack of full consciousness (for example, difficulty keeping your eyes open)
  • Confusion (not knowing where you are or getting things muddled up)
  • Drowsiness (feeling sleepy) that goes on for longer than 1 hour when you would normally be awake
  • Problems understanding people speaking
  • Loss of balance or problems walking
  • Any weakness in one or more arms or legs
  • Problems with your eyesight
  • Very painful headaches that won’t go away
  • Vomiting (being sick)
  • Any fits – (collapsing or passing out suddenly)
  • Clear fluid coming out of your ear or nose
  • Bleeding from your ears
  • New deafness in one or both ears

Things you shouldn’t worry about
You may feel some other symptoms over the next few days, which should disappear over the next 2 weeks. These include a mild headache, feeling sick (without vomiting), dizziness, irritability or bad temper, problems concentrating or problems with your memory, tiredness, lack of appetite or problems sleeping.

You should make an appointment with your GP if:
• you feel very concerned about any of these symptoms in the first few days after discharge
• these problems do not go away after 2 weeks

We also recommend that you seek a doctor’s opinion about your ability to drive a car or motorbike if appropriate.

Things that will help you get better
This advice you should help you to recover more quickly and it may relieve any symptoms you have:
• Do not stay at home alone for the first 48 hours after leaving hospital
• Do make sure you stay within easy reach of a telephone and medical help
• Do have plenty of rest and avoid stressful situations
• Do not take any alcohol or drugs, other than your regular medications (if any)
• Do not take sleeping tablets, sedatives or tranquillisers unless they are given to you by a doctor
• Do not play any contact sport (for example rugby or football) for at least 3 weeks without talking to your doctor first
• Do not return to your normal school, college or work activity until you feel you have completely recovered
• Do not drive a car, motorbike or bicycle or operate machinery unless you have completely recovered

Long-term problems
Most patients recover quickly and experience no long-term problems. However, some patients only develop problems after a few weeks or months. If you start to feel that things are not quite right (for example, memory problems, or not feeling yourself), then please contact your GP as soon as possible.

If you have any further queries, please contact:

• Headway – the brain injury association: 0808 8002244
• Headway Milton Keynes branch: 01908 230555
• Emergency Department: 01908 995 913 ext. 2409 between 9am and 10 pm
• Hospital switchboard: 01908 660033 between 10pm and 9am
• Call NHS 111
• Your GP surgery