Even though car manufacturers have made some impressive safety innovations during the last few decades, car accidents are still a leading cause of serious injury in the U.S. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle accidents sent almost 5 million Americans to doctors offices or emergency rooms in 2020 alone.
If you have a car accident, you should immediately check yourself for any signs of injury. Nevertheless, some injury symptoms can take hours, days or even weeks to appear. Why do some injuries have delayed symptoms, though?
Your body’s automatic stress response
Because car accidents are stressful, you can expect your body to prepare to respond. As you probably know, humans have a fight-or-flight response to stressful situations. Your body’s automatic stress response includes elevated heart rate, enhanced awareness and an influx of stress hormones. Any of these can numb pain or otherwise mask injury symptoms.
Your body’s pain receptors
Some parts of your body have millions of pain receptors. If a car accident injures one of these body parts, you will likely experience pain. Still, because some parts of you have few pain receptors, your injury may come with little or no discomfort. This means you might have to wait for other injury symptoms to show up to know about your injury.
It is typically critical to receive prompt treatment for any injuries you suffer in a car accident. Ultimately, even if you think you feel fine, it is usually wise to go to the emergency room for a complete, post-accident evaluation.