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Traumatic Brain Injury: When to Seek Medical Care

If you or a family member has an injury to the head and you notice any of the symptoms of brain injury or something just isn't right, call your doctor right away. Describe the injury and symptoms and ask if you should make an appointment to see your doctor or another specialist.

Seek Immediate Medical Attention, If Any of the Following Symptoms Occur:

  • Repeated vomiting
  • Worsening or severe headache
  • Unable to stay awake during times you would normally be awake
  • Very drowsy or cannot be awakened
  • One pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Cannot recognize people or places
  • Getting more and more confused, restless, or agitated
  • Difficulty walking, with balance or decreased coordination
  • Difficulty with vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Unusual behavior
  • Loss of consciousness (a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously and the person should be carefully monitored)
  • Any symptom that concerns you, your family members, or friends

Additional Danger Signs in Children

Take your child to the emergency department right away, if he/she received a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body, and:

  • Has any of the danger signs listed above.
  • Will not stop crying and cannot be consoled.
  • Will not nurse or eat.

Conversation To Have With Your Doctor

  • Ask what you can do to help you recover from this injury.
  • Get their okay to gradually return to your normal activities, including work or school.
  • Ask about how you can help your employer understand what has happened to you. Consider talking with your employer about returning to work gradually and about changing your work activities or schedule until you recover (e.g., work half-days).
  • Because your ability to react may be slower after a concussion, ask your doctor when you can safely drive a car, ride a bike, or operate heavy equipment.
  • Ask your doctor what you can do to keep from injuring yourself again.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Signs and Symptoms of Concussion, and Defense & Veterans Brain Injury Center.