Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Head injuries are quite common in young children. About 3,000-4,000 children die following a head injury each year. These numbers include head injuries that are suffered during automobile accidents, but the most common cause of head injuries in children under 10 years of age are caused by falls.
Head injuries are classified into two categories – External (scalp) and internal (which involve the skull, blood vessels within the skull, or the brain). Fortunately, most head injuries child suffers are less serious, external injuries.
There are many blood vessels within a person’s scalp and even a minor cut to the scalp may bleed excessively. A swollen spot, or “goose egg” that may appear on the scalp after your child bumps their head, is the result of fluid or blood leaking from the vessels in the scalp. It may take from a few days to weeks to disappear.
Watch your child carefully for the next 24 hours.
If the external head injury occurs near naptime or bedtime and your child falls asleep, check every few hours for differences in their breathing pattern or twitching of their limbs.
If your child’s breathing is normal and you do not observe or sense anything else out of the ordinary, let your child sleep. If their breathing is abnormal, or if anything about your child’s appearance bothers you, try sitting your child up and partially waking them. If your child does not attempt to lie back down and is unresponsive, try fully awakening him or her. If your child does not wake up, call 911.
A severe blow to the head may cause a fractured skull, torn blood vessels or damage to the brain, which are internal head injuries. An internal head injury can be serious and possibly life-threatening.
Your child may have an internal injury if he or she is unconscious, has abnormal breathing, has an obvious serious wound to the head, is bleeding from the nose, ear or mouth, has a disturbance in speech or vision, has pupils of unequal size, is weak or cannot move, is dizzy, has neck pain, has a seizure, is vomiting, or has a loss of bladder or bowel control.
If you suspect that your child has an internal head injury, immediately call an ambulance. If your child is unconscious, dazed or if there is any paralysis, do not move your child because there may also be a spinal injury.
If your child vomits, roll him or her to the side, but keep the head and neck from moving. If your child has a seizure, keep his or her airway clear.
If your child is conscious try to keep him or her calm and still.
Do not attempt to clean, apply pressure or remove any object if there is an open head wound. This may make the bleeding worse and cause serious complications to a fractured skull.
Call your child’s doctor if your infant hits their head or an older child hits their head and loses consciousness even if you suspect that they only have an external injury.