Youve fallen and hit your head. It hurts a little, but youre not bleeding and you feel okay. Do you have a head injury, or are you fine? Knowing how to tell a minor head injury from a serious one could literally save your life. Lets talk about head injuries.Millions of people get head injuries every year. They get into car accidents or fights, they fall, or they get hit in the head while playing sports or working on the job. Most head injuries are minor, because your head comes equipped with its own natural hard hat, a protective skull that surrounds and protects your brain. But sometimes that protection isnt enough. More than a half-million people each year get head injuries severe enough to send them to the hospital.The most common type of head injury is a concussion. Thats when a hit in the head makes your brain jiggle around in your skull. You can also get a bruise on your brain, called a contusion. Brain contusions are a lot more serious than bruises from a bump on the arm or leg. Other types of head injuries include a fractured skull or a cut on your scalp.If you get hit in the head or fall and you dont bleed, youve got a closed head injury. If an object enters your brain, like glass from a windshield during a car accident or a bullet from a gunshot, then you have an open head injury.It can be very hard to tell if youve got a minor closed head injury or a serious one. Your head might look perfectly fine from the outside, when you actually have bleeding or swelling inside your brain.advertisementTo tell the difference, look for other signs of a serious head injury, such as a severe headache; Clear or bloody fluid coming from your nose, ears, or mouth; Confusion, drowsiness, or a loss of consciousness; Changes in the way you hear, see, taste, or smell; memory loss; mood changes or strange behaviors; slurred speech or recurrent vomiting.If you or someone else has any of these symptoms, call for medical help right away.If you dont have these symptoms and you think its just a minor head injury, you probably dont need to be treated. Just ask a friend or family member to keep an eye on you. If its your child or someone else with the head injury, wake them up from sleep every 2 or 3 hours to ask questions like, “Where are you?” and “Whats your name?” just to make sure theyre alert.If youre in any doubt about whether a head injury is serious, play it safe and get medical help. To play it even safer, protect your head during any activities that could lead to an injury. Wear a helmet whenever you skateboard, roller skate, ski, snowboard, or ride a bike or motorcycle. Put on your seatbelt whenever youre in the car. And put kids in an age-appropriate car seat or booster seat.Review Date:10/25/2011Reviewed By:Alan Greene, MD, Author and Practicing Pediatrician; also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.