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Head Injury, No Wake-Up (Adult)

You have had a head injury. It does not appear serious at this time. Sometimes symptoms of a more serious problem (concussion, bruising or bleeding in the brain) may appear later. Therefore, watch for the warning signs listed below.

Home Care:

  • During the next 24 hours someone must stay with you to check for the signs below. It is not necessary to stay awake or be awakened during the night.

  • If you have swelling of the face or scalp, apply an ice pack (ice cubes in a plastic bag, wrapped in a towel) for 20 minutes. Do this every 1-2 hours until the swelling starts to go down.

  • You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) 650–1000 mg every 6 hours or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) 600 mg every 6–8 hours with food to control pain, if you are able to take these medicines. [NOTE: If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.] Do not take aspirin after a head injury.

  • For the next 24 hours:

    • Do not take alcohol, sedatives or medicines that make you sleepy.

    • Do not drive or operate machinery.

    • Avoid strenuous activities. No lifting or straining.

  • If you have had any symptoms of a concussion today (nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, headache, memory loss or if you were knocked out), do not return to sports or any activity that could result in another head injury until 2 full weeks after all symptoms are gone and you have been cleared by your doctor. A second head injury before fully recovering from the first one can lead to serious brain injury.

Follow Up

with your doctor if symptoms are not improving after 24 hours, or as directed.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following WARNING SIGNS occur:

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Severe or worsening headache or dizziness

  • Unusual drowsiness, or unable to awaken as usual

  • Confusion or change in behavior or speech, memory loss, blurred vision

  • Convulsion (seizure)

  • Increasing scalp or face swelling

  • Redness, warmth or pus from the swollen area

  • Fluid drainage or bleeding from the nose or ears


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