Falls are a common cause of skull fractures. Not all skull fractures are serious or require medical intervention. However, because some skull fractures have the potential to affect the brain, they require emergency evaluation to determine their seriousness.
There are different types of skull fractures that can range in severity. It is important to recognize the symptoms and seek appropriate medical care.
Types of skull fractures
A fracture of any bone, including the skull, is either simple or compound. According to Medline Plus, a simple fracture does no damage to the skin, while a compound fracture involves splintering of the bone and breaking of the skin.
Most skull fractures are linear, consisting of a thin fracture line but no distortion. A depressed skull fracture occurs due to crushing of a portion of the bone in which the broken fragments sink inward toward the brain. The most serious type of skull fracture is a basilar fracture that occurs at the back of the head near where it connects to the spine.
Symptoms of a skull fracture
A skull fracture can cause intracranial bleeding. This can result in dark bruising around the eyes. According to Healthline, the medical term for this symptom is periorbital ecchymosis, also known colloquially as raccoon eyes. A skull fracture can allow the cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds and cushions the brain, to leak out, resulting in clear discharge from the nose or ears.
Other symptoms of a skull fracture include slurred speech, nausea, headache, loss of consciousness, seizures, drowsiness, confusion and difficulties with balance or coordination. It can cause visual disturbances, and an observer may notice that the pupils of the eyes no longer react to light or are of uneven sizes.