What is a subdural hematoma and why does it occur?

A subdural hematoma is a accumulation of blood between the surface of the brain and its outer covering, known as the dura mater. The appearance of her can cause several complications which, if left untreated, can lead to death.

To detect a subdural hematoma you have to do a tomography or an MRI. However, paying attention to some symptoms can also alert us to their presence:

  • Confused speech and inability to pronounce words correctly.
  • Balance problems and difficulty walking.
  • Headache with nausea and vomiting.
  • Convulsions or loss of consciousness.
  • Weakness or numbness in the extremities.

When faced with any of these symptoms, it is best to go to the doctor or emergency room as soon as possible. A subdural hematoma is a emergency situation that must be dealt with as soon as possible.

Causes of a subdural hematoma

We have already seen the symptoms that alert you to the presence of a subdural hematoma. However, below we will deal with the possible causes that can cause it.

severe head injury

One of the main causes is severe head trauma. Whether through a traffic accident, physical assault, fall onto your head, or work accident, we may have done a lot more damage than we thought.

Subdural hematomas produced by these circumstances can disappear spontaneously.

However, those who do not experience any symptoms until weeks later. Older people who fall frequently are more at risk of subdural hematoma. Repeated falls can cause repeated head injuries with serious consequences.

Anticoagulant drugs

Some anticoagulant medicines, e.g heparin or warfarin, may favor the appearance of a subdural hematoma. These medications are meant to prevent clots from forming.

If an individual takes these medications and falls, the risk of sustaining a bruise increases. The reason is that after the blow and the venous rupture it will trigger, the blood will not stop. Therefore, it will accumulate in the subdural space rapidly increasing in size.


Older people are not only at risk of a subdural hematoma from falls. There is another reason why they are more susceptible.

As we age, the brain shrinks causing it to pull on the dura mater, drawing it towards itself. This causes blood vessels to stretch, making them more fragile and prone to possible tearing.

brain chemistry


Some diseases such as cancer or liver disease can weaken blood vessels. This makes them much more vulnerable to suffering a subdural hematoma in the event of an accident, fall or blow.

If we have felt identified with one of the causes mentioned and have nausea, headaches, fainting or balance problems, it would be advisable to visit the doctor. In this way we would exclude a possible subdural hematoma.

subdural hematomas in children

In the event that a child has a subdural hematoma and the parents are nervous or incoherent in speech, possible child abuse should immediately be suspected.

Repeated blows to children can cause a bruise of this type over time. For this reason, doctors will always investigate and analyze the situation to rule out any possible suspicion of abuse.

In case there is no indication of abuse inside the house they will try to find out if the child is being bullied or got into a fight recently. A fall or a blow with some type of tool can cause a subdural hematoma.

Despite this, we must take into account that children often fall and hit themselves a lot when playing. Therefore, once all the previous options have been excluded, we will be able to realize and verify that the contusion is the product of a circumstance unrelated to any type of abuse.

Let’s remember that at the slightest suspicion that we may have a subdural hematoma we must ask for help as soon as possible. Otherwise, the pressure in the brain will increase in such a way that we will fall into a coma. In severe cases it can cause death.

The post What is a subdural hematoma and why does it occur? first appeared on research-school



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