Your Friend Gets Hit in the Head

Mar 11, 2010
Outside Magazine
Adventure Medicine


Coconut, out of the blue! She insists she's fine, but it was a serious blow. Carry on or carry out?
DEAL WITH IT: Even if she seems lucid, you may still have an emergency on your hands—especially if she ever lost consciousness. A concussion can be accompanied by slow internal bleeding, even from minor trauma, and things could get worse quickly. Treat the head­ache only with acetaminophen (Tylenol); never naproxen sodium (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil), or, especially, aspirin, all of which promote bleeding. Watch closely for 24 hours, even rousing her periodically from sleep. A worsening head­ache, wooziness, vomiting, unequal pupils, and changes in speech or gait are all indicators of a slow bleed. Mayday!
AVOID IT: Wear a helmet if you're mountain biking, rafting, or skiing—and don't push it as hard as you would at home.