The skull is rigid and strong to protect the brain, but with sufficient force, it can break like any other bone. If a person hits his or her head during a slip and fall, the force could be sufficient to fracture the skull.
Skull fractures can range in severity. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, most are relatively mild and require no medical intervention. However, a severe skull fracture carries the risk of damage to the brain. The following are signs that a skull fracture is severe and requires medical attention.
1. Object protruding from the skull
If a person hits his or her head against a sharp object, it may become embedded in the skull. According to Medline Plus, there should be no attempt to remove the object as this could cause damage to the brain. Instead, the person requires medical attention as soon as possible.
2. Clear discharge from ears or nose
Cerebrospinal fluid is a substance inside the skull that provides brain support and cushioning. A skull fracture can cause the CSF to leak out of the skull. It may start flowing from the nose or ears. The fluid may also have tinges of blood, but in either case, the person requires emergency medical care.
3. Facial bruising or bleeding
A fracture can cause blood to collect within the skull. This can cause purplish bruising called ecchymosis to form in distinctive patterns around the eyes or behind the ears. The bruising is not painful but is a symptom of a much more serious problem.
Other symptoms that indicate a serious skull fracture include loss of consciousness, convulsions and problems with breathing or circulation.