Head Injury

  • Most head injuries are not serious and simply cause a bump or a bruise.
  • If your child’s head is bleeding, apply pressure for 5-10 minutes. If it continues to bleed, they may need to have it glued (stitches are very rarely required). This can usually be done in a minor injuries unit or a walk in centre. Some GP practices offer minor injuries units.
  • A significant head injury can result in concussion. A child or young person does not have to have been unconscious, or “knocked out” for concussion to occur. Common symptoms of concussion include headache, fatigue, poor sleep and difficulty concentrating / learning.

When should you worry?

If your child has any of the following during the next 48 hours:

  • Vomits repeatedly i.e. more than twice (at least 10 minutes between each vomit)
  • Becomes confused or unaware of their surroundings
  • Loses consciousness, becomes drowsy or difficult to wake
  • Has a convulsion or fit
  • Develops difficulty speaking or understanding what you are saying
  • Develops weakness in their arms and legs or starts losing their balance
  • Develops problems with their eyesight
  • Has clear fluid coming out of their nose or ears
  • Does not wake for feeds or cries constantly and cannot be soothed

You need urgent help.

Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999

If your child has any of the following during the next 48 hours:

  • Develops a persistent headache that doesn't go away (despite painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen)
  • Develops a worsening headache

You need to contact a doctor or nurse today.

Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111

If your child:

  • Is alert and interacts with you
  • Vomits, but only up to twice
  • Experiences mild headaches, struggles to concentrate, lacks appetite or has problems sleeping - if you are very concerned about these symptoms or they go on for more than 2 months, make an appointment to see your GP.

Self care

Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, call NHS 111 – dial 111

What should you do?

  • In general, if your child cries immediately after a head injury and returns to their normal self in a short time, they can be managed at home. You should observe them closely for the next couple of days, checking that they are responding normally to you. They may be pale or quieter than normal for the first couple of hours after a head injury – this is normal.
  • If your child is under a year of age, begins vomiting, has a headache that is getting worse, is behaving oddly or has fallen from a height taller than they are, they will need to be seen urgently by a medical practitioner. Call your GP surgery or ring NHS 111.
  • Let your child rest and try to avoid strenuous activity until their symptoms have settled.
  • Give them paracetamol (calpol) and/or ibuprofen if they are in pain.
  • If your child has been concussed, a graded return to normal activities/school is always recommended. It is best to avoid computer games, sporting activity and excessive exercise until all symptoms have improved.
  • For support with concussion, contact the Child Brain Injury Trust on 0303 303 2248 or download their factsheet.
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How long will my child’s symptoms last?

  • Your child is likely to return to normal within a few hours of a minor head injury.
  • In the few days following a more significant head injury, your child may experience mild headaches, might be irritable, may struggle to concentrate, may lack appetite and may have problems sleeping. If these symptoms go on for more than 2 weeks, make an appointment to see your GP.

Where should you seek help?

  • If your child is under a year of age, begins vomiting, has a headache that is getting worse, is behaving oddly or has fallen from a height taller than they are, they will need to be seen urgently by a medical practitioner. Call your GP surgery or ring NHS 111.
  • If your child has any of the above features, they need urgent help. Call 999 or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.

Self Care

For wear and tear, minor trips and everything in between.

Self-care

You can treat your child's very minor illnesses and injuries at home.

Some illnesses can be treated in your own home with support and advice from the services listed when required, using the recommended medicines and getting plenty of rest.

Sound advice

Children can recover from illness quickly but also can become more poorly quickly; it is important to seek further advice if a child's condition gets worse.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Local Pharmacist

Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. You don’t need an appointment and many have private consultation areas, so they are a good first port of call. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.

Sound advice

  1. Visit a pharmacy if your child is ill, but does not need to see a GP.
  2. Remember that if your child's condition gets worse, you should seek further medical advice immediately.
  3. Help your child to understand - watch this video with them about going to the pharmacy.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Health Visitors

Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.

Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns or to the Community Paediatricians or to the child and adolescent mental health services.

Contact them by phoning your Health Visitor Team or local Children’s Centre.

Sound advice

Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:

  • Breastfeeding, weaning and healthy eating
  • Exercise, hygiene and safety
  • Your child’s growth and development
  • Emotional health and wellbeing, including postnatal depression
  • Safety in the home
  • Stopping smoking
  • Contraception and sexual health
  • Sleep and behaviour management (including temper tantrums!)
  • Toilet training
  • Minor illnesses

For more information watch the video: What does a health visitor do?

School Nurses

School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5-19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and/or emotional health needs.

Contacting the School Nurse

Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse – telephone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.

There is also a specialist nurse who works with families who choose to educate their children at home.

Sound Advice

Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.

They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:-

  • encouraging healthier lifestyles
  • offering immunisations
  • giving information, advice and support to children, young people and their families
  • supporting children with complex health needs

Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.

GP (General Practitioner)

GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.

Sound advice

You have a choice of service:

  1. Doctors/GPs can treat many illnesses that do not warrant a visit to A&E.
  2. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about visiting the GP or going to a walk in centre

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

NHS 111

If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.

Sound advice

Use NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Accident and Emergency

A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.

Sound advice

  1. Many visits to A&E and calls to 999 could be resolved by any other NHS services.
  2. If your child's condition is not critical, choose another service to get them the best possible treatment.
  3. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about going to A&E or riding in an ambulance
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