Head Injuries

This page is for adult patients who have have been examined, and the doctor or nurse is happy for you to go home. For your safety, you should have a responsible adult with you, who has read this information, for 24 hours or until you have recovered.

What symptoms to expect

It is normal after a head injury to experience the following:

  • Mild headache
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Feeling sick (without vomiting)
  • Mood changes - feeling angry, anxious, irritable, or struggling to rest are common symptoms
  • Difficulty concentrating and retaining information.
  • Feeling tired or needing to sleep more

Your recovery

These symptoms should resolve over the next two weeks. If they persist or you have concerns please visit your GP.

You can take simple over the counter analgesics (painkillers) such as paracetamol to help.

  • Do rest.
  • Do keep well hydrated and avoid stress where possible.
  • Resting includes avoiding strenuous activity or rough sports.
  • Avoid reading small text or screens such as computers, phones or TV as concentrating on these can make your symptoms worse.
  • Do not have alcohol or any sedatives (medicines that help sleep) following your head injury for at least 48 hours.
  • Do not drive until you are fully recovered. 
  • Do not return to work, college or school until your symptoms have improved. 
  • Do not participate in contact sports for at least 3 weeks.

Red flag symptoms (when to call for help)

Most head injuries resolve without any serious complications. However, if you experience the following symptoms please call 999 and return to A&E immediately.

  • Severe or worsening headache (despite painkillers)
  • Vomiting (being sick)
  • Dizziness or a lack of co-ordination 
  • Increasing confusion or memory problems
  • Weakness or numbness
  • Excessive sleepiness during normal waking hours
  • Fits or seizures, convulsions or collapse.
  • Change to your eyesight
  • Deafness in one or both ears
  • Neck stiffness

Head injury useful information

© North Bristol NHS Trust. This edition published April 2024. Review due April 2027. NBT002438

Head Injuries

Contact Emergency Department (ED)

Gate 35, Level 0
Brunel building
Southmead Hospital
Southmead Road
BS10 5NB

Emergency Department Main Reception Gate 35: 0117 4145100 or 0117 4145101