Seat belts and airbags can help to prevent serious injuries in a car accident. At the same time, these protective devices can create physical problems themselves, report doctors at MedStar Emergency Medical Services. Seat belt injuries may not always seem immediately obvious. There are symptoms to watch for following an accident that can indicate further damages from the seat belt.
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Blood in the urine or stools can indicate internal damage caused by the pressure of the seat belt. The organs can become compressed and create urinary tract or bladder damage. In addition to bleeding when voiding, accident victims should also watch for any changes in bowel movements or urination. Endometriosis or colon obstruction can result from seat belt trauma causing bleeding and constipation, report doctors at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Coughing up or vomiting blood could indicate lung damage, respiratory tract injury or stomach problems.
Weakness in the legs can result from damage to the lower back, the abdomen or spinal nerves. The weakness may appear in one or both legs. General feelings of dizziness or weakness could indicate symptoms of shock or internal organ damage.
When the seat belt is pulled in a crash, bruising and muscle strains can occur in the area over which the seat belt was tugged. Swelling and skin discoloration can commonly result and usually dissipates in a couple days.
When a person has trouble breathing following an accident, they may have sustained damage to the organs in their chest from the pressure of the set belt. Heart or lung damage can make breathing difficult.
While a person may become sore from the pressure of the seat belt, lingering signs of more serious damage to the neck should be monitored. A whiplash injury results when the torso is held in place and the head snaps. Increasing stiffness or pain in the neck may result if a spinal injury occurred because of whiplash.
When the seat belt crosses the kidneys and delivers a serious blunt force, the first symptoms include abdominal pain and pain in the area between the hips and ribs, report doctors at Merck. Low blood pressure and anemia can result from the blood loss. Untreated, kidney damage can lead to delayed bleeding, infections and kidney failure.