Childcare emergencies: Causes of loss of consciousness

Loss of consciousness is an issue that must to taken seriously. Even though unconsciousness has various causes, head injuries are the usual cause.

Loss of consciousness due to head injuries

In most cases of head injuries, a child who loses consciousness wakes up only after a few seconds, but even so, he/she should be assessed by a doctor.

Even though most head injuries are considered minor, a doctor must be consulted if blood or clear fluid drains from the nose or ears. Prompt assessment by the doctor is also required if the child has the following:

  • Headache

    Loss of consciousness
    In most cases of head injuries, a child who loses consciousness wakes up only after a few seconds, but even so, he/she should be assessed by a doctor.
  • Dizziness
  • Appears agitated, irritable or incoherent
  • Shows a decrease in mental alertness
  • Breathes noisily or oddly
  • Convulsions
  • Difficulty walking or seeing
  • Increased sweating
  • Paleness
  • Vomiting episodes more than twice or after several hours has passed

If the child wants to sleep after a minor injury to the head, the doctor might advise to allow him/her to do so. During the first night, the child must be awakened every 2 hours to ensure that he/she can be aroused and recognizes you. Monitor if the breathing is normal, skin color is normal and if the pupils are equal in size and not vomiting. If the child could not be aroused or any of these signs are present, call emergency assistance right away.

In case a head injury is a serious one, call for emergency assistance immediately. Do not attempt to move the child except in cases to prevent further injury. If bleeding is severe, place pressure using gauze or a clean towel. Monitor the breathing and pulse until the emergency team arrives.

Fainting

All episodes of fainting necessitate an assessment with a doctor. Before an episode, the child might feel lightheaded and nauseated, then he/she turns limp and falls to the ground. It is important to note that these episodes usually occur if there is a brief disruption in the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain, often linked to fear, stress or overexertion. Other contributing factors include pain, warm weather, empty stomach or an unusual odor.

In most cases, a fainting episode only lasts for a minute or less when the normal blood flow returns and the child regains consciousness.

Some cases of fainting might require medical attention. Call for emergency assistance if a child is still unconscious for more than 2 minutes, has difficulty breathing or jerks while unconscious.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on loss of consciousness is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to more about the causes of loss of consciousness among children, register for a first aid and CPR course with Red Deer First Aid.

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