Head Injury: Types, Causes, and Symptoms
The design of the head which includes the skull and face is to protect the brain against injuries. Along with the bony protection, the brain is wrapped in tough fibrous layers termed as meninges and is bathed in a fluid which facilitates a little shock absorption quality.
When a head injury occurs, the brain function can be lost even without any visible damage to the head. The force applied on the head might cause the brain to be injured directly, shaken or bounce against the inner walls of the skull. The trauma can possibly cause bleeding in the inner spaces of the brain, bruise the tissues of the brain or might damage the nerve connections within the brain.
Head injuries can range from a light blow on the head to a severe skull fracture. Head injuries are becoming the most common causes of disabilities, brain damage or even death.
Types Of Head Injuries:
There is a wide range of head injury types, and the injury can be more or less severe within each category.
Hematoma is defined as a clot or collection of blood outside the blood vessels. Hematomas are mostly caused due to an injury to the walls of blood vessels(artery, vein, or small capillary).
There are different types of hematomas. They are classified based on the location they formed in the brain. which includes:
- Epidural hematoma
- Subdural hematoma
- Intracerebral hematoma
- Diffuse axonal injury (DAI)
They can range from mild head injuries to serious life-threatening injuries. The clotting of blood can build pressure inside your skull which may cause unconsciousness or result in permanent damage of the brain.
A hemorrhage is said to be as uncontrolled bleeding in the inner layers of the meninges. If the bleeding is in the space around your brain then it is called as Subarachnoid haemorrhage or if the bleeding within the brain tissue then it is called as Intracerebral haemorrhage.
Symptoms like severe headache, vomiting and stiff neck can be seen in people with Subarachnoid haemorrhage( bulging or burst of a blood vessel). Apart from the direct damage of brain tissue, bleeding which builds up pressure and swelling or bruise are the major complications associated with intracerebral bleed.
Loss of brain functions suddenly and temporarily due to a brain injury is said to be a concussion. A concussion occurs when the head suffered from a forceful impact which is severe enough to cause brain injury.
In the case of concussions, complications vary from person to person and the damage caused due to the impact, it may cause either short-term or long-term problems or both or life-threatening complications. However, repeated concussions can ultimately result in permanent damage.
Unlike other bones in the body, our skull is formed with very hard and thick bone designed to defend the brain from injuries. However, if the impact on the skull is hard enough then possibly a fracture or a crack can happen to the skull. The impact can cause a concussion or the broken skull bones may penetrate into your brain which can injure the deep brain.
Skull fractures are categorised into four major types according to the pattern, location and type. Which include:
- Linear skull fractures
- Depressed skull fractures
- Diastatic skull fractures
- Basilar skull fracture
Causes Of Head Injury
Generally, head injuries can be classified based on the cause. They can occur either due to blows to the head or due to vigorous shaking of the head. Usually, head injuries due to shaking are commonly seen in infants and small children.
Head injuries caused due to forceful blow to the head are associated with:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- From falls or violence
- Physical assaults
- Sports-related accidents
Explosive blasts and other combats also cause head injuries. Mostly your skull will try to protect your brain always from serious harm. But if the impact on the head is high, then even your skull breaks and damages your brain.
Symptoms Of Head Injury
Unlike other parts in your body, the head has a lot of blood vessels. So the bleeding is one of the serious concerns in head injuries. However, all head injuries may not cause bleeding.
It’s important to watch out for the symptoms in trauma cases because in some cases symptoms may not appear right after the traumatic event, they may develop days or weeks later.
You should watch out for the symptoms continuously several days after the injury to your head.
Symptoms Of Mild Traumatic Head Injury:
- Swollen area from the bruise
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Fatigue, Irritation, confusion
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Balance problems, speech problems
- Nausea or vomiting
- Problems with memory and/or concentration
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Alteration in taste
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
- Feeling depressed or anxious
Symptoms Of Moderate To Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries
The following symptoms may appear days after a head injury or within the first hours of the injury. Symptoms of mild head injuries also appear in some cases.
- Passing out for some time and not waking up
- Significant bleeding
- Severe headache that worsens over time
- Nausea or vomiting repeatedly
- Short-term memory loss
- Slurring of speech, Sweating
- Loss of balance
- Weakness or numbness
- Seizures or convulsions
- Behaviour changes, sleeping disorders
- Blood or clear fluid coming from the ears or nose
- One pupil in the eye may dilate or looks larger than the other.
- Deep cut in the scalp
- Bruises behind the ears
- Problems with sight, taste, or smell
- Coma (a state of unconsciousness)
- Vegetative state
- Locked-in syndrome
The symptoms may also resemble other health problems or medical conditions. The best way is to consult a doctor as soon as you notice the above symptoms after a head injury. We, at Sunshine Hospitals, have the best doctors so we can take ample care of emergency trauma cases.
About the Doctor:
Dr. Y. Venkatesh – Consultant Neurosurgeon
Dr. Y. Venkatesh, Consultant Neurosurgeon at Sunshine Hospitals has vast experience in treating brain tumours, vascular lesions in the brain like aneurysms and AVMs. He is an expert and has hands-on experience in performing Endoscopic brain and spine procedures and minimally invasive procedures. He is one of the most sought after neuro and spine surgeons in the city of Hyderabad.
About Sunshine Hospitals:
A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma and Neurology.