Delayed Symptoms After a Car Crash

Symptoms of injuries from a car crash may take hours, days or even weeks to develop.

An Adrenaline Rush Can Delay Symptoms

Adrenaline is known as the “fight-or-flight” hormone. Your body releases adrenaline to make the heart beat faster, increase blood flow, and stimulate the production of sugar to use as fuel in response to a stressful, dangerous or threatening situation. This happens so fast it is referred to as an adrenaline rush. An adrenaline rush is one of the body’s vital defense mechanisms. It decreases the body’s ability to feel pain, temporarily increases strength and sharpens mental focus. Because of this adrenaline rush, many people involved in an auto accident do not realize they have been hurt or the extent of their injuries until later on the day of an accident or when they wake up the next day.

Concussion Symptoms May Take Time to Develop

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can be caused by a direct blow or jolt to the head or body in a car crash, even a relatively minor one. Symptoms of a concussion may not emerge until several days after a crash. These symptoms include:

  • Headaches or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
  • Amnesia about the traumatic event
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Personality changes

The earlier a concussion is diagnosed, the better doctors are able to treat it. So even if you feel fine initially after a car crash, if you later develop several of these symptoms see a doctor as soon as you can.

Whiplash Symptoms May Also Be Delayed

Whiplash is another common injury from car crashes. Whiplash is caused by an abrupt backward and/or forward jerking motion of the head. This whipping motion can damage the joints between the vertebrae, discs, ligaments, muscles and/or nerve roots in the neck. Symptoms of whiplash may not develop until several days after a car crash. These symptoms include:

  • Neck pain that will not go away
  • Stiffness in your neck making it difficult to turn or move your head
  • Headaches that will not go away
  • Muscle spasms in your neck
  • Pain in the shoulder or between the shoulder blades
  • Pain or numbness in the arm and/or hand
  • Low back pain

If you experience any of these symptoms you should seek medical attention without delay.