Don’t Ignore These Six Delayed Symptoms After a Car AccidentRequest Free Consultation
Most people imagine they’d know the extent of their injuries immediately after a car accident, but surprisingly, many accident victims sustain serious injuries that aren’t immediately identifiable after a crash. During the traumatic aftermath of a car accident, an adrenaline surge combined with high emotions and anxiety can cause a potent mix of hormones that override our brain’s ability to assess injuries. Some injuries develop slowly in the hours and days after blunt force trauma.
If you’ve been in a car accident, you should always accept emergency transport to a hospital for a full evaluation or go to an emergency room as soon as possible and tell your medical team about every symptom — even those that seem minor. During the days after your accident, remain vigilant and don’t ignore any signs of injury, especially the following injuries that commonly present with delayed symptoms:
1. Whiplash Symptoms May Be Subtle
Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries. Whiplash occurs from the sudden, whip-like back-and-forth motion of the head during a collision. Many people feel pain and stiffness in the days after an accident and expect it to dissipate on its own; however, whiplash pain may worsen over time and cause many related problems if left untreated. Common delayed symptoms of whiplash include:
- Stiff neck and neck pain
- Back pain
- Tingling in the arms and hands
- Problems with mood, memory, and concentration
Untreated whiplash can lead to spinal misalignment and worsened ill effects. It’s important to have whiplash identified and treated after an accident.
2. Concussion Symptoms
Accident victims who experience loss of consciousness after an accident are commonly diagnosed and treated for a concussion, which is a form of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that can be mild to severe. In some cases, symptoms of a concussion may not appear until hours or days after impact. Concussions can cause permanent damage to delicate brain tissue. Symptoms of a concussion include the following:
- Any loss of consciousness
- Blurred vision
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sensitivity to light and noise
It’s essential to have a concussion diagnosed as soon as possible so you can receive proper monitoring and treatment.
3. Back and Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
Accidents can cause damage to the vertebrae and discs in the spine, which in turn can impact the sensitive nerves in the spinal cord. Some symptoms develop over time during the days after an accident as the tissue surrounding the damage swells and/or bleeds. A doctor should evaluate you for spinal damage as soon as possible after an accident but seek treatment at any time in the days after an accident if you experience:
- Pain and stiffness
- Weakness in the back or limbs
- Numbness or tingling
- Balance problems
Ignoring back pain can lead to chronic back problems when left untreated.
4. Internal Bleeding, Occult Bleeding, and Hemorrhagic Shock
The term “occult bleeding” is used to describe slow internal bleeding that isn’t immediately identifiable by routine medical evaluation after an accident. Hemorrhagic shock occurs when the cells are deprived of oxygen due to blood loss. This type of internal bleeding may occur after blunt force trauma in a car accident. Symptoms include:
- Bloody urine or stool
- Coughing or vomiting blood
- Abdominal pain and/or swelling
- Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
Seek emergency care immediately if you develop any symptoms of internal bleeding even if you’ve been previously evaluated by a doctor.
5. Blood Clot Symptoms
Blood clots may form at any time after an accident due to blunt force trauma or from immobility after an accident during the recovery period. Blood clots can be deadly if they break away from the place where they formed and travel to the lungs, heart, or brain. Symptoms may mask as normal aches and soreness after an accident and include the following:
- Swelling in the limbs or other body parts
- Warmth or redness
- Muscle pain
- Low-grade fever
If you suspect you or a loved one is experiencing a blood clot after an accident seek emergency medical treatment right away.
6. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Other Psychological Injuries
The physical trauma of an accident may be immediately obvious, but emotional trauma can also have significant negative impacts on an accident victim’s quality of life. PTSD, depression, and anxiety may develop or worsen in the days, weeks, or months after a car accident. Seek help for the following symptoms of psychological injuries after an accident:
- Intrusive thoughts
- Difficulty sleeping
- Poor concentration
- Avoidant behavior
- Mood or temperament changes
Keep Careful Records
If you’ve experienced an injury from an accident, keep careful documentation of your medical expenses and lost wages even if you weren’t immediately aware of your injury. A successful accident claim can help you gain compensation for your economic and non-economic damages.