When it comes to diagnosing head injuries and administering appropriate pain relief protocols, recognition of a condition is half the battle. If you experience any of the following, you may have a cause of head trauma.
That said, because head trauma is an umbrella term, you’ll want to examine each of these symptoms and consult your doctor as to what specific condition they fit. One broad distinction that may be made is the distinction between internally and externally-caused or manifested trauma. For example, car crashes, being tackled in a football game, or other such actions which lead to cranial impact is likely to lead to symptoms which are the result of skull damage. That said, a concussion is caused by the brain knocking against the inside of one’s skull, usually as the result of external trauma. That said, the damage is to the brain and therefore internal in nature, and you may not be able to see any external signs.
As a general precaution, if you or a friend have reason to believe severe cranial trauma has happened, you’ll want to call 911 immediately and do everything possible to prevent the patient’s neck or head from moving further.
In addition, when dealing with head trauma and associated cases of pain, you’ll want to be on the lookout for these symptoms in particular:
- Inability to stand or balance: This can be due to anything from a severe head injury to momentary disorientation and is therefore a symptom which requires contextualizing. While you may use the circumstances previous to your being unable to stand or maintain your balance to determine a likely cause, you should see a doctor to confirm. Generally speaking, a loss of balance in particular could point to trauma relating to those parts of the brain responsible for coordination. If you are literally unable to stand, or otherwise have reason to hear that there is a possibility of paralysis, call a paramedic immediately.
- Confusion: Now, obviously this symptom should be taken in conjunction with others in order to determine if it is related to head trauma and associated pain or is otherwise the result of something else. To give a worst case scenario, dementia, Alzheimer’s and other memory-based conditions can occur without trauma.
- Small cuts or bumps: Pain management as it pertains to small cuts, bumps and abrasions can be extremely tricky. You DO NOT want to do anything that could potentially allow water, medicine, or any outside elements to get deep into the skull or—should the injury be bad enough—deeper cranial regions. For soaking up blood with regards to small cuts and bumps, use a cloth, and use a cold pack or ice for bumps, but again, DO NOT pour water or medicine onto the region without a doctor or paramedic’s OK. In addition, in the case of bumps or abrasions, if fragments of skull are poking through the skin, DO NOT place water or cold packs directly on top of the area, but rather to the side of the injury. Above all, move the patient as little as possible, and make sure they have ample head and neck support until paramedics arrive.
- Headache and Ringing in the Ear: These are both classic symptoms of pain pertaining to head trauma. For a headache, you’ll want to ask a doctor as to what pain management pill or treatment, if any, is safe and likely to be most effective for your particular condition. While it may be tempting to administer over the counter treatments to ease the pain, if you suspect a more serious cranial injury, you’re going to want to keep your system as clear as possible so as not to impair blood work and tests.
- Loss of Consciousness: Obviously, you do not want to allow someone suffering from head trauma or pain to lose consciousness. This is especially true if the patient has skull fragments sticking out of the skin or has lost a lot of blood.