The majority of head injuries are minor and scans are not required. However, it is important that you have someone at home with you for the next 24 hours in case you feel unwell.
- ensure a responsible adult is with you for the next 24 hours
- ensure you are in easy reach of a working telephone
- rest quietly for the rest of the day
- avoid strenuous exercise for the next 48 hours
- avoid watching television, playing computer games or working on computers for long periods
- avoid alcohol and recreational drugs as this may mask symptoms of a deterioration in head injury
- take usual medications unless told otherwise by your doctor
- use pain relief as directed
- apply ice packs to painful or swollen areas.
- sleep, however make sure someone wakes you every four hours in the 24 hours after the head injury occurred to make sure you are alright if instructed by your clinician.
- drive home after leaving hospital.
- operate machinery or drive for 24 hours
- take any sleeping tablets or sedatives unless directed by your doctor
- stay at home alone for the first 24 hours.
What to expect
Most people recover quickly and fully from their head injury with no long term problems. Over the next few days you may experience:
- lack of appetite
- problems sleeping
- concentration problems.
If these do not go away within a few days see your GP.
See your family GP or go to an emergency department if any of the following develop
- severe or continuing headache despite taking painkillers
- persistent vomiting
- bleeding or discharge from ear or nose
- numbness or weakness in face, arm or leg
- confusion or unusual drowsiness
- a fit or seizure
- loss of consciousness
- slurred speech or difficulty swallowing
- problems with eyesight or balance
- new deafness in one or both ears.
- always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or motorbike or as required at your place of work
- always wear a seatbelt in a vehicle
- use safety equipment during activities that could result in a head injury.
Where to get help
- See your doctor
- Visit a GP after hours
- Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222
This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.