Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, are frightening events. Symptoms might not immediately appear following an injury to the head, and some people may insist they feel normal and don’t need to go to the hospital. However, a TBI can cause an epidural hematoma, or a pooling of blood inside the skull. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention. Epidural hematomas can go unnoticed for a while, but by acting quickly, you can help prevent a more serious emergency. Read on to learn why you should go to the emergency room following any significant head injury.
What Is an Epidural Hematoma?
Trauma to the head can cause the brain to bounce against the skull, which can tear the brain’s lining, tissue, and blood vessels. If this happens, blood begins to build up between the bone and the brain, creating an epidural hematoma.
Why Is an Epidural Hematoma Dangerous?
As the blood pools inside the skull, it puts an increasing amount of pressure on the brain and even pushes the brain out of its normal position. This can result in loss of consciousness, permanent brain damage, and changes in vision, mobility, and speech. If the pressure persists, it can lead to coma or death. However, surgeons can drain the hematoma and reduce the strain on the brain, preventing further damage.
What Are the Signs of an Epidural Hematoma?
Symptoms vary widely, so it’s best to seek medical attention after any head trauma, regardless of whether the injured person seems ok or not. A person with an epidural hematoma might experience:
- Loss of consciousness, followed by a brief period of lucidity, and then another loss of consciousness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Enlarged pupils, typically with one larger than the other
- Loss of vision
- Weakness in part of the body
- Changes in breathing
- A slow, yet strong, pulse
- An increase in blood pressure