When we hear the awful thud of a child’s head, our breath catches. A prompt cry after the injury is reassuring. It is normal to feel sleepy after a child hits his head, and is even okay for him to vomit once.
The following is a list of signals that tell you that you need to talk with your pediatrician after your child hits his head.
If your child hits his head and is (or has):
- Under six months of age
- Unconscious, even briefly
- Crying for longer than 10 minutes or prolonged irritability
- Vomiting repeatedly
- Bleeding or other liquid draining from the ears, mouth, or nose
- Rapid swelling just above the ear
- Bruising around the ear or eye
- Unable to walk or talk normally
- Acting strangely or drowsy
- Unequal pupil size
- Severe, worsening headache
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Skull indentation or large bump
- Great force of injury (car accident, long fall, baseball bat, etc.)
- Worsening symptoms or symptoms improve then worsen
If any of these symptoms or situations are present or if you have any concerns, call your physician right away. Your child may be fine, but you should be in touch with an expert. If your child is unable to get up by herself immediately after the head injury, don’t move her. Call 911 and wait for emergency help to arrive.
If none of these symptoms are present, it is fine to let your child sleep, as long as you wake her every half hour for the first six hours after the fall. After this, awaken her at your bedtime and again four hours later to check on her status. If at any time your child seems to develop a suspicious symptom, call your doctor immediately.
Did the information in this article help to answer your questions? What else could we include here to help other parents who are wondering if they should call a doctor after their child has hit their head?
Note: Dr. Greene has provided the above information for parents and caregivers after a child has hit their head. Doctors use these guidelines as the basis for determining if a child needs to be further evaluated. Because they are general in nature, readers often have specific follow-up questions. Unfortunately, Dr. Greene can not provide individualized diagnosis or treatment suggestions. If you still have questions after reading this, contact your child’s pediatrician.