News & Politics

When to Call a Doctor

A fender-bender, a tumble off a bike, a soccer collision—almost everyone sustains a blow to the head at some point. 

Two-thirds of those who have a mild head injury or concussion recover just fine. But if you have hit your head—even if months ago—and you or your loved ones notice any of these symptoms, it may be time to see a physician:

In Adults

• Headaches or neck pain that won’t go away

• Trouble remembering things, concentrating, or making decisions

• Slow thinking, speaking, acting, or reading

• Getting lost or easily confused

• Feeling tired all the time, having no motivation

• Mood changes; feeling sad or angry for no reason

• Sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping

• Feeling lightheaded or dizzy or losing balance

• Nausea

• Increased sensitivity to light, sound, or distractions

• Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily

• Loss of sense of smell or taste

• Ringing in the ears

In Children

• Feeling tired or listless

• Being irritable or cranky; a baby may not stop crying or cannot be consoled

• Changes in eating

• Changes in sleep patterns

• Lack of interest in favorite toys or activities

• Changes in performance at school

• Loss of new skills such as toilet training

• Loss of balance, unsteady walking

• Vomiting

You can find more information from the Brain Injury Association National Help Line, 800-444-6443 or

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Executive Editor

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986. She is the editor in charge of such consumer topics as travel, fitness, health, finance, and beauty, as well as the editor who handles such cover stories as Great Places to Work, Best of Washington, Day Trips, Hidden Gems, Top Doctors, and Great Small Towns. She lives in DC.