Shock vs. Concussion – How to Identify Concussion Symptoms After a Car Accident

If you’ve been in a car accident, it can be difficult to determine what your symptoms are and what your body might be trying to tell you. While dealing with the aftermath of the collision is one challenge, it’s also crucial to distinguish between shock and a potential concussion. These symptoms may look similar, but the treatments differ, and understanding the difference is key to ensuring a smooth recovery.

How Shock Affects Your System

Shock is your body’s innate defense mechanism when processing trauma. In the case of severe injuries or a traumatic event, your body might attempt to shut down temporarily to protect itself. This reaction mainly occurs in two ways, depending on your situation.

Emotional Shock

This type of shock is the form you may hear about most. Emotional shock happens when you are in a traumatic situation, like a car accident. In these situations, it can be difficult to process what’s happening around you, so your body goes into shock. You might feel disassociated, as if you’re having an out-of-body experience. In some cases, you may not even feel pain from the surge of adrenaline running through you. When experiencing emotional shock, you may find yourself panicking, or you may freeze up or faint. These are all normal reactions to have toward trauma, and in time, will go away. It’s important to note that untreated shock may develop into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but talking to a therapist or someone close to you can help.

Physical Shock

Physical shock frequently occurs in cases of severe injury, internal injury, or significant blood loss. Shock causes your body to shut down your vital organs as a way to prevent further damage and blood loss. It can happen immediately or be delayed, sometimes not appearing until days after the initial trauma. If left untreated, shock could be life-threatening. If you suspect you might be going into physical shock, seek medical care right away.

Signs of Physical Shock You Should Know

When you’re in a car accident, it’s important to pay attention to how your body feels, as pain can be the first indicator that something is wrong. However, it can be hard to identify what it means. Symptoms of shock may look like a concussion, and vice versa. To protect yourself, look out for these signs of shock, so you know when to seek medical attention.

Some symptoms of shock include:

  • Clammy skin
  • Hyperventilating
  • Elevated or rapid heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety

If you experience any of these symptoms after an accident, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention to rule out shock. If it’s not shock, you may have a concussion instead.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury resulting from a blow to the head or sudden, jarring movement, like whiplash. They are usually not life-threatening but can disrupt your life for a few days, or a week or so. It’s not uncommon for concussion symptoms to be confused with those of shock, as a concussion can cause vision changes like tunnel vision, double vision, spotty vision, out-of-focus, aura, or a change in pupil size. You may also experience loss of consciousness, confusion, or trouble focusing.

Concussion Symptoms To Be Aware Of

  • Fatigue
  • Balance Issues
  • Mood Changes
  • Concentration or Memory Issues
  • Sensitivity to Light or Noise
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea
  • Vision Changes

Some of these symptoms are similar to shock. The key to distinguishing your symptoms between shock and a concussion is to receive medical attention as soon as possible. For effective treatment, both conditions require professional evaluation. It’s also important to speak to a medical provider to ensure there are no other injuries or issues that need attention.

Experiencing Concussion Symptoms? Here’s What to Do Next

After an accident, your health and well-being should be a top priority. If you suspect you’re experiencing concussion symptoms, you should seek professional care to ensure a smooth recovery. A medical provider or a physical therapist can help you manage your symptoms effectively, and prevent long-term side effects from post-concussion syndrome. Treatment may involve rest, increased fluid intake, cold packs, and the use of over-the-counter medications to alleviate pain and discomfort.

Helping You Recover Your Life and Well-Being

At Essential Chirocare and Physical Therapy, we’re committed to helping you overcome pain and regain a sense of normalcy after your accident. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to live life to the fullest, free from pain. If you have further questions about your condition after an auto accident, consider downloading our ebook, “Explaining Pain After an Auto Accident,” for more insights and guidance.

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Whether your pain and discomfort is longstanding or new, we are a Tampa chiropractor who will work with you to get to its root cause so that you don’t just feel well, but are well. Set up a consultation with us to get started.

Schedule Your Consultation

Whether your pain and discomfort is longstanding or new, we are a Tampa chiropractor who will work with you to get to its root cause so that you don’t just feel well, but are well. Set up a consultation with us to get started.