The car accident happens without warning. One minute, you’re driving down the interstate without a care in the world, listening to your favorite podcast. Then a semitruck merges into your lane, clips the front corner of your car, and sends you spinning out of control. You slam into the guardrail and then get hit by a pickup truck that was following too closely behind you.
As the dust settles, you step out of your mangled sedan and you cannot believe it: You’re all right. Yes, your heart is beating at 1,000 miles per hour and your emotions are so out of control that you feel like you want to scream, but you did not get hurt. You walk over to the median and sit down to wait for the emergency crews to arrive.
You may be fine, but do not assume you are. Do not turn down medical treatment. Your racing emotions and the surge of adrenaline in your body can mask physical issues. Some symptoms may get delayed. People often report first noticing symptoms hours or days after a crash.
Below are a few of the most oft-reported delayed symptoms to watch out for:
Whiplash brings on serious neck pain and discomfort, and it happens when your head snaps around during the wreck. Bills can get quite high because just making the proper diagnosis to understand potential treatment options may mean getting a CT scan, x-rays or an MRI.
Your head may feel clear right after the crash, but you wake up the next day with a headache that won’t go away. This could mean you have a serious concussion. It could relate to head and neck injuries. In the worst cases, you could even have a blood clot. Take headaches seriously, especially when common painkillers do not help and the headaches will not end.
3. Personality changes
Have other people noticed changes in your personality after the crash? Perhaps you now struggle with depression and anxiety. Maybe your memory isn’t what it used to be and you feel frustrated and angry more often. These are all potential signs of a traumatic brain injury, but it can take weeks or even months to really realize what happened.
4. Swelling and/or abdominal pain
Internal bleeding may not have clear outward signs instantly, but it can lead to lasting pain and swelling over the next few hours or days. You need to watch out for deep purple bruises, and you want to seek medical attention quickly if you experience fainting and dizziness. Internal bleeding can turn fatal if untreated.
If you do discover delayed injuries long after the accident, be sure you know exactly what options you have moving forward.