Wearing your seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle is one of the more effective ways to stay safe. After all, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that seat belts saved nearly 15,000 lives in a single recent year.
Even though your seat belt may prevent you from dying in a serious automobile accident, it may also leave you with painful broken ribs. Unfortunately, rib fractures sometimes cause some potentially catastrophic complications. Here are three of them.
1. Punctured lung
Your ribcage does a good job at protecting your lungs from injury. Still, if you break ribs in a collision, pieces of bone may penetrate your lung. Because a punctured lung cannot hold air correctly, it is a medical emergency.
2. Torn aorta
Your aorta is the primary artery that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Like with a lung puncture, shards of broken ribs may tear or sever your aorta. Either, unfortunately, may lead to considerable blood loss. If you do not receive immediate medical attention, a torn aorta may be fatal.
3. Damaged other organs
Your liver, spleen, kidneys and other vital organs sit inside your rib cage. If your seat belt causes you to fracture ribs, virtually all organs in your torso are vulnerable to damage. With some injured organs, such as your spleen, you likely need emergency medical care.
For others, you may not realize you have sustained an injury until days or even weeks after the accident. Consequently, to ensure you have not damaged vital organs or suffered any other complications from your crash-related broken ribs, it is vital to have a doctor fully examine you as soon as possible.