Concussion is a temporary injury to the brain caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head.

Go to A & E after a head injury if you or your child have:

  • been knocked out but have now woken up
  • been vomiting since the injury
  • a headache that does not go away with painkillers
  • a change in behaviour, like being more irritable
  • problems with memory
  • been drinking alcohol or taking drugs just before the injury
  • a blood clotting disorder (like haemophilia) or take blood-thinners (like warfarin)
  • had brain surgery in the past

You or your child could have concussion.

Symptoms usually start within 24 hours, but sometimes may not appear for up to 3 weeks.

Find your nearest A & E

Call 999 if someone has hit their head and has:

  • been knocked out and has not woken up
  • difficulty staying awake or keeping their eyes open
  • a fit (seizure)
  • problems with their vision
  • clear fluid coming from their ears and nose
  • bleeding from their ears or bruising behind their ears
  • numbness or weaknessin part of their body
  • problems with walking, balance, understanding, speaking or writing
  • hit their head in a serious accident, such as a car crash

Also call 999 if you cannot get someone to A & E safely.

How to treat a minor head injury

If you do not need to go to hospital, you can usually look after yourself or your child at home.

It's normal to have symptoms such as a slight headache, or feeling sick or dazed, for up to 2 weeks.

To help recovery:


  • hold an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas in a tea towel) to the injury regularly for short periods in the first few days to bring down the swelling
  • rest and avoid stress - you or your child do not need to stay awake if you're tired
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve pain or a headache - do not use aspirin as it could cause the injury to bleed
  • make sure an adult stays with you or your child for at least the first 24 hours


  • do not go back to work or school until you're feeling better
  • do not drive until you feel you have fully recovered
  • do not play contact sports for at least 3 weeks - children should avoid rough play for a few days
  • do not take drugs or drink alcohol until you're feeling better
  • do not take sleeping pills while you're recovering unless a doctor advises you to

See a GP if:

  • your or your child's symptoms last more than 2 weeks
  • you're not sure if it's safe for you to drive or return to work, school or sports


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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 01/10/2019 10:27:15