Head injury

Choose the right healthcare service to get the care you need and to enable the NHS to help the greatest number of people.

GREEN Self-care or ask a pharmacist for advice

Sent home from hospital with a minor head injury

Did not need to go to hospital

Symptoms of concussion, such as a slight headache or feeling sick or dazed, for up to two weeks

Hold an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas in a tea towel) to the area regularly, for short periods, over the first few days

Rest and avoid stress, sleep if tired

Take painkillers such as paracetamol for headaches. Avoid anti-inflammatories and aspirin initially (they can thin the blood)

Do not go back to work or school until feeling better

Do not drive until fully recovered

Do not play contact sports for at least three weeks

Do not take drugs or drink alcohol until feeling better

Do not take sleeping pills while recovering, unless a doctor advises to –

AMBER It is urgent but not life threatening

Have a head injury and are unsure what to do

Have had a head injury assessment, but later deteriorate

Have had a head injury and symptoms last more than two weeks

Have had a head injury and not sure if it’s safe to drive or return to work, school or sports

Call 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk


Contact a GP Practice

RED It is a life-threatening medical emergency

Hit head and has:

  • been knocked out and not woken up
  • difficulty staying awake or keeping their eyes open
  • a seizure (fit)
  • fallen from a height more than one metre or five stairs
  • problems with vision or hearing
  • a black eye without direct injury to the eye
  • clear fluid coming from ears or nose
  • bleeding from ears or bruising behind ears
  • numbness or weakness in parts of the body
  • problems with walking, balance, understanding, speaking, writing
  • been hit at speed i.e. road accident or diving
  • a head wound with something inside, or dent to head
  • brain surgery or bleeding in the past

Call 999, or go straight to Emergency Department, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham. Do not self-drive.

Head injury and has:

  • been knocked out but now woken up
  • vomited since the injury
  • a headache that does not go away with painkillers
  • changed behaviour. irritable or losing interest in things
  • been crying more than usual
  • problems with memory
  • been drinking alcohol or taking drugs just before the injury
  • a blood clotting disorder (like haemophilia) or takes blood thinning medicine
  • had brain surgery or brain bleeding, in the past

Go to Emergency Department, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham.