They can be. Bleeding, tearing of tissues and brain swelling can occur when the brain moves inside the skull at the time of an impact. But most people recover from head injuries and have no lasting effects.
It's normal to have a headache and nausea, and feel dizzy right after a head injury. Other symptoms include ringing in the ears, neck pain, and feeling anxious, upset, irritable, depressed or tired.
The person who has had a head injury may also have problems concentrating, remembering things, putting thoughts together or doing more than one thing at a time.
These symptoms usually go away in a few weeks, but may go on for more than a year if the injury was severe.
A serious head injury is most likely to happen to someone who is in a car wreck and isn't wearing a seat belt. Other major causes of head injuries include bicycle or motorcycle wrecks, sports injuries, falls from windows (especially among children who live in the city) and falls around the house (especially among toddlers and the elderly).
The doctor will ask about how the injury occurred, about past medical problems, and about vomiting, seizures (fits) or problems breathing after an injury.
The injured person may need to stay in the hospital to be watched. Sometimes, tests that take pictures of the brain, such as a computerized tomography (CT) or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, are needed to find out more about possible damage.
No. If the doctor thinks the person needs to be watched this closely, he or she will probably put the person in the hospital.
Sometimes, doctors will send someone who has had a head injury home if the person with them is reliable enough to watch the injured person closely. In this case, the doctor may ask that the person be awakened frequently and asked questions such as "What's your name?" and "Where are you?" to make sure everything is okay.
This depends on how bad the injury was and how much damage it did. Most head injuries don't cause permanent damage.
It's common for someone who's had a head injury to forget the events right before, during and right after the accident. Memory of these events may never come back. Following recovery, the ability to learn and remember new things almost always returns.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff