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Health A-Z

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Harvard Medical School

Symptoms

Acute subdural hemorrhage usually develops after severe head trauma. Injuries that result in this condition are typically forceful enough to cause a temporary loss of consciousness.

Usually, in the minutes to hours after head injury, the person recovers consciousness. Then, the person gradually loses consciousness again, this time from subdural bleeding.

Other common symptoms of an acute subdural hemorrhage include:

  • Severe headache

  • Weakness on one side of the body

  • Seizures

  • Changes in vision or speech

Chronic subdural hemorrhages produce more subtle symptoms. These symptoms may continue for more than a month before the diagnosis is recognized.

These symptoms include:

  • Mild headache

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Change in personality

  • Memory loss

  • Loss of balance or difficulty walking

  • Double vision

  • Weakness, numbness or tingling in arms or legs

The symptoms caused by chronic subdural hemorrhage can mimic other common conditions. For example, they may resemble strokes and brain tumors. Occasionally, the gradual memory loss and personality changes can be mistaken for dementia.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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