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Why You May Need a CT Scan After a Head Injury

Why You May Need a CT Scan After a Head Injury

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Head injuries are no laughing matter. These injuries to the scalp, skull, and/or brain are caused by some form of trauma — like a car accident, a sports accident, or a fall — and can be quite serious. The most common type of sports-related brain injury is a concussion. An estimated 1.6-3.8 million concussions occur from playing sports each year.

A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). It occurs when the brain is shaken hard enough to bounce against the hard shell of the skull. It can happen when two people collide, as in football, when you’re hit with a piece of equipment such as a baseball bat, or in normal play such as when you “head” the ball in soccer.

Concussions, which account for about 75% of TBIs, alter a person’s mental status and can interrupt the brain’s normal functioning. While most resolve on their own, multiple concussions can have a cumulative effect, making each worse than the one before.

Trusted ER, a 24-hour concierge-style emergency room practice with locations in Dallas, Coppell, Hurst, Irving, and Sherman, Texas, is no stranger to head injuries. Each center is fully equipped with a radiology department that can perform X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds to aid in diagnosis and treatment of injuries, including TBIs.

What is a CT scan?

CT or CAT scan is more formally known as computed tomography. It’s a type of diagnostic medical imaging test. While traditional X-rays only show bone and some gross structures, a CT scan is more sensitive and can produce multiple, cross-sectional images of body structures. The images are taken as you lie on a table and the tech moves you in and out of a space in the center of the large device. Having a CT scan is completely painless.

One advantage of a CT’s images is that they’re reformatted in multiple planes and compiled into three-dimensional images. These images are easily viewed on a computer screen. They can be printed on film or by a 3D printer; and they can be transferred to a CD or DVD so you can show the images to your primary doctor or any specialist you need to see at a later time.

Why should you get a CT scan after a head injury?

If you’ve had a head injury, it’s important that the doctor can see if you have any internal injuries, skull fractures, or brain bleeds that might require immediate attention. CT images can show bones, internal organs, soft tissues, and blood vessels in much greater detail than regular X-rays, particularly for soft tissues and blood vessels.

While not as sensitive — or as costly — as a magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI), a CT scan is usually the best test to have first if the doctor suspects you have a skull fracture or a brain bleed. It’s an extremely common test after a car accident, since you might not feel symptoms from the injury right away.

Possible symptoms of a skull fracture or brain bleed include:

  • Weakness on either side of your body
  • Trouble speaking, swallowing, or hearing
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • One pupil larger than the other
  • Fluid or blood coming from an ear or the nose

Not all head injuries require a CT scan. If your doctor thinks you have a mild concussion, for example, a CT scan probably won’t show anything out of the ordinary.

When should you see a doctor?

If you’ve had a car accident, a fall, or any other type of injury where you may have injured your head, you should definitely see a doctor, as your symptoms may not show up immediately. Only a medical professional can determine the extent of your injury and whether a CT scan is warranted.

Trusted ER is open 24 hours a day and welcomes anyone who needs help. Call any of our six locations, contact us via our online form, or if you’ve had an accident, just come in.

Categories
Wellness

Pharmacyspeak 101: What You Should Know About the Meds You Take

Pharmacyspeak 101: What You Should Know About the Meds You Take

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Chances are, if you visit a hospital, emergency room, or family doctor’s office for an injury or illness, you’ll be prescribed a medication to either relieve your symptoms, clear an infection, or remedy some dysfunction.

There are thousands of ways to classify medications. It’s quite a chaotic system because of the sheer number of drugs and categories. But at Trusted ER, our emergency physicians always plainly explain what a medication does and why we’re using it. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of a few common categories of medication — ones that you may come into contact with if you visit an ER. 

How medications are classified

Part of the reason that drug classification is chaotic is that there’s more than one way to organize drugs. We classify drugs in the following ways: 

  • By their use (what condition they treat, e.g., an ACE inhibitor treats high blood pressure)
  • By their mechanism of action (biochemical reactions that take place when you take the medication, e.g., slows the activity of the ACE enzyme)
  • By their mode of action (how your body responds to the drug, e.g., your blood vessels relax and your blood pressure decreases).  
  • By their chemical structure (what the drug is made of)

The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) established a drug classification system where they categorize medication first by their use, then by categorization of mechanism and mode of action, and finally, by chemical makeup. There are other classification systems, but the USP system is most useful to consumers. 

Common classifications of medications

Below are several groups of drugs that you may be prescribed after a visit to the emergency room, or that you might be given during an ER visit. Keep in mind that these aren’t all of the categories designated by the USP (there are nearly 50), but these are common. 

Analgesics: These are pain medications, including both opioids and non-opioids. These may act on substances in the body that cause pain, interrupt pain signals to your brain, relieve inflammation, or work by some other mechanism. 

Anesthetics: These medications block the sensation of pain and other feelings, such as discomfort or anxiety. We usually use these so that we can perform surgery or other treatments. Anesthetics may be local to a pain or surgery site or general, of which the aim is usually partial or complete unconsciousness. You may be given anesthetics orally, as an injection, via inhalation, or as a topical salve. 

Anti-inflammatory agents: This most often refers to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Tylenol® and Ibuprofen. These drugs primarily reduce pain, lower inflammation, and reduce fevers. Another conventional anti-inflammatory medication is a COX-2 inhibitor, which reduces the activity of certain compounds that irritate your body.

Antibiotics: This is a large class of medications that intends to treat bacterial infections of all kinds, from urinary tract infections to upper respiratory infections to pink eye. There’s no single antibiotic that can cure all infections, and it’s sometimes a tricky game figuring out which antibiotic will work best (based on your condition, medical history, antibiotic resistance, and more).

Antivirals: Antiviral drugs, such as the common Tamiflu for influenza, work by interfering with the virus. It’s important to know that antivirals don’t kill the virus, but they do keep it from spreading within your body. They may also help manage symptoms while your body fights off the virus. 

To learn more about medications and how we use them, visit our pharmacy FAQ pageTrusted ER is a 24-hour independent emergency room — call one of our convenient Texas locations for more information.