While you shouldn't ignore any type of head injury, not all of them require an immediate trip to the emergency room. Several types of mild to moderate injuries are able to be easily treated or checked at an urgent care center. Here are some examples of the type of injuries you can have checked at your local urgent care and those that you should defer to the emergency room.
Mild Head Injuries
Mild head injuries are those that either have no break in the skin or only a minor cut that is easily bandaged. With a mild injury, you should not lose consciousness, nor should your behavior noticeably change. However, you may have a headache and feel a bump where the injury occurred. In some cases, you could have some minor visual issues and feel tired. Usually, these symptoms go away within a few hours or days. If your symptoms linger, then visit your doctor or urgent care center to be checked.
Moderate Head Injuries
Moderate head injuries need prompt medical attention and testing, but they are not always life threatening. Examples include lacerations on the face or scalp or a hard bump. If you have a moderate injury, you probably "saw stars" when you hit your head. You may also be a little disoriented and have a temporary problem speaking. In some cases, you could feel nauseous and may even have a mild concussion, but your skull is intact with no fractures. Some adverse effects may not appear until much later. If you suspect you have a moderate head injury, then limit your activity until you can see a doctor.
Severe Head Injuries
Severe head injuries are life-threatening emergencies, and you should go to the emergency room or hospital as soon as possible. Severe injuries include skull fractures and punctures as well as major bleeding and loss of face or scalp material. For most people, a severe head injury will result in a loss of consciousness, or at least a loss of coordination and severe disorientation. Without quick and immediate treatment, your likelihood of survival or full recovery is slim.
You should be concerned about any type of blow to the head, even if it seems to be nothing. After you hit your head, be vigilant about any unusual symptoms that may indicate something serious. If you are in any doubt about your injury, then you should always seek medical advice. Urgent care centers are a great place to have mild-to-moderate head injuries checked out and treated, and they can even refer you for more intensive treatment if needed.