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Minor Head Injury: Discharge Information

A head injury is any trauma that leads to injury of the scalp, skull, or brain. Injuries can range from a minor bump on the head to serious brain injury.

Symptoms of a head injury

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tiredness or change in sleep patterns
  • Nausea
  • Feeling off balance
  • Temporary blurring of vision
  • Anxiety and/or irritability

Symptoms of a head injury usually resolve within a week. However, for some, symptoms may persist for weeks and rarely, months. Having suffered a minor head injury, we advise you to see your family doctor if your symptoms have not resolved within one week after the injury.

During the next 24 hours you and/or a caregiver should watch for symptoms such as increasing drowsiness and/or confusion, which may indicate a more serious injury.

To manage your head injury, we suggest:

  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain
  • Reduce the use of electronics (e.g. cell phone, computer, television) as these can prolong or worsen your symptoms
  • Avoid aspirin, other pain/narcotic medication or sleeping medication unless advised otherwise
  • Avoid alcohol and stimulants such as coffee
  • Avoid operating heavy machinery or other dangerous equipment
  • Avoid playing contact sports (football, hockey, rugby, lacrosse) until you are seen by your family doctor. Your doctor will give you permission to return to any activity that may put you at risk for another head injury

Return to the Emergency Department if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe or worsening headache even after taking acetaminophen
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Increasing drowsiness or confusion
  • Poor coordination or new weakness of your arms or legs
  • Watery or bloody discharge from nose or ears
  • Seizure

Wear a helmet when you perform activities that may put you at risk of hitting your head. These activities include bicycling, ice skating, roller blading, skate boarding, skiing, snowboarding, electric scooters, and others.

These evidence-based resources provide more information about Head Injury:

The content on this webpage is to be used as a supplement to the instructions provided to you during your Emergency Department visit. The content, including information and instructions, provided on this website are not to be used as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 9-1-1 or go to the closest emergency department.