Battle’s sign is not a sign of bravery after waging a war or a symbol of victory but a bruise that occurs after a person breaks a bone at the base of their skull. This break, known as basilar skull fracture can land a person in greater trouble such as meningitis, permanent brain injury and other such complications.
Dissecting the Condition: Battle’s Sign
A crescent-shaped bruise appears on one or both ears indicating an intensive brain injury. The skull which houses the brain and forms the head is composed of 20 different bones one of which is the basilar bone. The basilar bone at the base of the skull protects our ears, eyes, cerebellum, brain stem and nerves to the head and neck. The bruise behind the ear is not a direct injury but an indication that one or more basilar bones of the skull have been broken.
A head injury is of the worst injuries as it can be life-threatening or cause debilitating side effects in many cases. Major complications include:
Meningitis: Basilar skull fracture might result in leakage of the brain and spinal fluids in almost 20% of people which increases the risk of bacterial meningitis (infection of brain and spinal cord). Meningitis mostly occurs after a fracture as bacteria from the nose, ears and throat enter the brain or spinal cord in case of skull injury. Read more about meningitis from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Blood vessel injury: A basilar skull fracture can cause injuries to the blood vessels that supply the brain (cerebrovascular injuries). These cerebrovascular injuries can cause permanent brain damage or even death.
While the crescent-shaped bruise is an obvious sign of the condition there are plenty other signs including:
The bruise doesn’t appear immediately after the bone breaks and it might take up to 24 hours or more for the bruise to appear after damage to the skull. Hence, in case of a head injury it is recommended to meet a physician and seek advice.
What could be as strong as to break the bones of the skull? It might be some form of physical violence, contact sports, car and motorcycle accidents, two-wheeler accidents that happen due to negligence of wearing a helmet and falls where the person hits the floor head-on.
A Battle’s sign bruise immediately calls for a physician’s attention and treatment. The doctor evaluates the individual’s neurological health using a CT scan, physical exam, EEG, blood tests, MRI and X-ray. Such tests help to detect any injury to the brain or movement of the broken bones.
The doctor suggests surgery if the injury is severe. A person’s health statistics too determine the course of treatment. If the tests prove no presence of brain injuries, bleeding or other complications the injured individual can be under a doctor’s observation and provided care at home. Once the patient has been discharged after treatment or sent home after observation he/she should strictly adhere to follow-up appointments, take extra precaution to prevent themselves from getting injured while the wound is still healing, avoid playing sports or doing physical activity up to several months, observe for symptoms such as meningitis, fever, stiff neck or headache and report to a doctor if they find new symptoms such as dizziness, headache, confusion or loss of consciousness.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.
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