Is your post-accident headache just a headache?

Aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen have been around for decades. For many, these over-the-counter medications are effective at minimizing or eliminating headache pain. Sometimes, though, treating a headache yourself may cause you to delay treatment for more serious injuries.

The stress of a car accident may cause you to develop an almost instantaneous headache. If the headache persists for more than a few hours, though, you may have one of the following injuries that require immediate medical treatment.

Traumatic brain injuries

Even though your car has dozens of safety features, you may suffer an open or closed traumatic brain injury in a crash. An open TBI occurs when something fractures your skull. With a closed TBI, you may have damage to your skull or brain with little or no outward signs. A headache is one of the more common symptoms of both types of TBI.

Cerebrospinal fluid leak

In a car accident, the thin membrane that holds your cerebrospinal fluid in place may rupture. If this happens, your brain and spinal cord may not receive the nutrients and support they require. In addition to having a headache, a cerebrospinal fluid leak may cause a waterlike fluid to drip from your ears or nose.

Ear or eyes damage

When your car’s airbag deploys, it may damage your ears or eyes. While accident-related eye injuries may cause eye pain or blurred vision, you may also experience headaches. Furthermore, because your inner ears play a role in your balance, ear problems may cause your head to hurt.

You may not be able to distinguish between serious injuries and regular headaches, especially in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. Ultimately, you probably want to trust modern medicine to determine if your headache is just a headache.

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