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Head injuries

It is very common to get a bump to the head. They can range in seriousness from very minor to life-threatening.

The most common causes of head injuries are falls, assaults and car accidents.

The most common causes of serious head injuries are:

  • car accidents
  • sports injuries
  • accidents at home, such as slips, falls or trips
  • accidents at work, such as falls or being hit on the head
  • assaults.

An injury to the head can cause a bump or bruise. You may also experience:

  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • mild headache
  • bruising or tenderness and swelling to the scalp
  • mild dizziness.

A serious head injury can cause anything from nausea to concussion to bleeding to death.

If you have a fit or seizure or fall unconscious, even if its only for a second, you should call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

If you are bleeding and it won’t stop, or if you have fluid coming from your nose or ears, you should go to your nearest emergency department immediately.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your head injury, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).



Last reviewed: July 2015

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Head Injury

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Children and head injuries

A head injury or head trauma happens when the brain is swollen, torn, stretched, shaken, compressed, bruised or pierced. Read our page to find what you should do if you think your child has had a head injury.

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Helmets are shown to reduce motorcyclist head injury and death | Cochrane

Motorcyclists are at high risk in traffic crashes, particularly for head injury. A review of studies concluded that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by around 69% and death by around 42%. There is, so far, insufficient evidence to compare the effectiveness of different types of helmet. Some studies have suggested that helmets may protect against facial injury and that they have no effect on neck injury, but more research is required for a conclusive answer. The review supports the view that helmet use should be actively encouraged worldwide for rider safety.

Read more on Cochrane (Australasian Centre) website

Minor Head Injury in Children

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Concussion and mild head injury | The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

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Concussion

The majority of head injuries are minor and scans are not required. However, it is important that you have someone at home with you for the next 24 hours in case you feel unwell.

Read more on WA Health website

Concussion | Kids Health

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If there is a watery discharge from your nose or ear (rhinorrhoea or otorrhoea) after you have suffered a skull fracture or after brain surgery.

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Recommendations from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists on imaging for ankle trauma, deep venous thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism & low back pain.

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