A subdural hematoma is a buildup of blood between the layers of tissue that cover the brain. The blood collects under the layer closest to the skull. (This layer is called the dura.) The bleeding is most often caused by a head injury, but there can be other causes. In an older adult, even a minor injury can lead to a subdural hematoma.
The buildup of blood inside the skull can put pressure on the brain. This may cause symptoms, such as a severe headache, confusion, or seizures.
There are two kinds of hematomas: acute and chronic.
- With an acute hematoma, symptoms start soon after the injury.
- With a chronic hematoma, it may be days or weeks before symptoms appear.
Doctors use imaging tests to find the buildup of blood. You may have a test such as a CT scan or MRI. The doctor may also do a test to check the pressure inside your skull.
Bleeding inside the skull may get worse over time. So it is very important to pay attention to your symptoms. And be sure to see your doctor for follow-up testing.
In some cases, treatment is needed to stop the bleeding or remove the blood. This helps relieve the pressure on the brain. You may have a procedure or surgery. The surgery may make small holes in the skull or remove part of the skull.
You may not need treatment if you have a small hematoma that is not causing symptoms.
If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, you may need to stop taking it. The doctor may give you treatment to undo the effects of the blood thinner. This can help prevent more bleeding in the skull.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
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