Automobile accidents are inherently stressful events. Following a crash, you are apt to worry about yourself, your passengers and your vehicle. You may even feel uneasy about interacting with the other driver, police officers, emergency responders and others. You must realize, though, that your body’s stress response may play tricks on you.
During moments of stress, the human body prepares either to fight off danger or run away from it. To do so, your brain signals the release of adrenaline and other stress-related hormones. Unfortunately, however, your body’s stress response may induce you into believing that you have not sustained a serious injury when you have.
The side effects of stress hormones
If you have been through a car crash, you are likely to notice a change in your body. Adrenaline, epinephrine, cortisol and other stress hormones may cause an elevated heart rate, higher blood pressure, dilated pupils and increased sweat. While these side effects are likely to enhance your ability to respond to a stressful situation, they may also mask pain. As such, you may not realize that you have sustained an injury until hours or days after the collision.
The dangers of a normal stress response
Car accidents can cause a variety of injuries, ranging from whiplash to organ damage. If you have a traumatic brain injury, broken vertebrae or internal bleeding, moving around after a car crash can be tremendously dangerous. That is, you may develop additional injuries or life-threatening complications. Furthermore, if you continue to experience stress following an accident, you may encounter additional health problems.
The benefit of a medical evaluation
Because your body’s stress response can disguise injuries, you should always seek a professional medical evaluation following any type of car accident. When you visit the doctor, be sure to explain how the accident unfolded. If you are still reeling from the effects of a stressful event, you may want to have a family member or trusted friend accompany you to the hospital.
Your body’s stress response should keep you safe. Unfortunately, though, the hormones that course through your veins can be problematic. By understanding how your body’s reaction to a stressful event may put you in additional danger, you can better plan for responding appropriately to a car crash.