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Delayed Injury Symptoms After a Car Accident

Car accidents can occur in an instant. An almost universal reaction after a car accident is to exclaim, “It all happened so fast!” But despite how suddenly an accident occurs, some injuries are not immediately evident. Often, a surge of powerful stress hormones after a trauma masks pain signals during the aftermath of an accident, making it difficult to assess all of a victim’s injuries. In other circumstances, injuries can occur during the hours or days after an accident as inflammation from trauma causes damage to bodily tissue.

It’s critically important to seek medical attention after a car accident and to request a complete medical evaluation as soon as possible in order to identify any injuries. Once you are home following a car accident, carefully monitor for any changes and seek medical attention immediately if you begin to notice delayed injury symptoms.

Delayed Injury Symptoms After a Car Accident

Understanding Adrenaline and Car Accidents

When the body sustains a sudden trauma, the brain releases a surge of stress hormones, including adrenaline—the hormone responsible for the human fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline is an important factor in self-preservation by providing the following resources during trauma:

  • Increased energy flow
  • Reduced pain or pain-masking
  • Dilation of blood vessels to increase oxygenation
  • Increased strength
  • Changes in vision and hearing to maximize reaction to stimuli

Often the body also releases endorphins along with adrenaline. A rush of powerful endorphins is what makes some accident victims feel a sense of detached calm.

While the combination of stress hormones released during acute physical and emotional trauma is an important part of survival, they may also temporarily mask symptoms of injuries after a car accident. This is the body’s way of enabling trauma survivors to do what they need to do to survive despite their injuries.

Because you may not be able to feel the trauma your body has experienced in a collision until after the surge of stress hormones dies away, it’s essential to have a thorough medical exam after an accident and to monitor your condition at home for any changes or developing symptoms that could indicate an injury you weren’t aware of immediately after the car accident.

Inflammation After an Accident

During a car accident, the body sustains trauma not only from blunt force impact from outside elements but also from coming to an abrupt, jarring stop after traveling at a rate of high speed. This force can cause tissue damage in multiple parts of the body including, the back, neck, spine, and brain. When the brain bumps against the bony interior of the skull, inflammation and fluid may cause pressure to develop in regions of the brain during the hours and days after an injury.

When a brain injury victim is hospitalized, medical providers use surgery and medication to relieve inflammation and pressure in order to minimize damage. After an accident, it’s critical to watch for signs of delayed injuries, including brain injury. Symptoms of delayed injury include:

  • Headaches
  • Vision changes
  • Nausea
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Stiffness or reduced range of motion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Behavioral or mood changes

Seek medical treatment immediately if you notice any of the above warning signs of delayed injury. Not only does this protect your physical health, but it also makes it easier to prove your injury later so you can recover damages in a car accident claim with the help of a Seattle accident lawyer. A successful claim for damages can help you recover medical costs, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering.

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