Headache is not as common in children as in adults. Any recurring headache or headache associated with vomiting, poor coordination or other symptoms should be evaluated by your physician. Mild infrequent headaches can be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Headaches associated with fever and a stiff neck are potentially serious and should be evaluated by your physician right away.
Most head injuries in children are relatively minor and are seldom severe enough to justify the hours that parents spend worrying about them.
There are a variety of signs and symptoms to watch for following a head injury during the first 24 to 48 hours. You should observe your child for the following symptoms and report them to your doctor as instructed.
- If your child loses consciousness, you should immediately contact the physician.
- Drowsiness. Most children will become drowsy after a head injury and sleep. It does no harm for your child to fall asleep. In fact, this is very common.It is important, however, to make sure that your child can be fully aroused. It is a good idea to awaken your child every three to four hours during the night after a bad blow to the head. If you have difficulty in waking your child, you should report this to your doctor.
- Any convulsion or seizure following head trauma should be reported to the doctor.
- Double vision or other visual problems should be reported to the physician.
- Unequal pupils should be reported to the doctor.
- Weakness in one arm or one leg should be reported to the doctor. Any limp or staggering which persists more than a few minutes after the head injury should be reported.
- Any abnormal leakage of fluid from the nose or ears should be reported.
- Vomiting. Vomiting is common following even minor head trauma. If it persists more than twice following the trauma, you should report this to the doctor.
- If your child develops slurred speech or is unable to speak, you should contact the doctor.
- Headache. This is a common symptom after head injury. If it persists or becomes increasingly severe, you should notify your doctor.
If your child exhibits none of the above, then it is very unlikely that your child has sustained a significant head injury. A hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin at the site of the head trauma) or “goose egg,” as some parents call them, is not serious unless they are huge (size of a baseball). This problem will resolve on its own.