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Head injury treatments

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.

You should call healthdirect immediately on 1800 022 222 if you:

  • vomit
  • have trouble seeing, hearing or speaking properly
  • having a headache which is getting worse or won’t go away
  • having difficulty seeing or hearing
  • being confused or acting strangely
  • having difficulty staying awake
  • having pupils which are a different size to each other
  • losing your balance or feeling dizzy
  • losing your memory.

You should also call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 if:

  • you develop any other new symptoms
  • you become increasingly concerned
  • the health and symptom checker has not addressed your symptoms.

Otherwise, sit quietly and use an icepack. You need someone with you to watch you closely for 24 hours (or 48 hours for children or older people). You can take paracetamol, but not other painkillers.

There is no need to stay awake following a head injury. The injured person needs to be woken gently every 4 hours to make sure they respond normally. If they don’t, they should go to the nearest emergency department.

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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Head Injury Card | 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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Beta-2 Transferrin - Lab Tests Online AU

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.

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Radiology tests & treatments: 6 recommendations from Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR)

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.

Read more on Choosing Wisely Australia website

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