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Crushing injuries: Toxins make these injuries life threatening

In a crash, one kind of injury a person could suffer is a crushing injury. A crushing injury is bad enough as it is, but there are also life-threatening complications of crushing injuries that patients face once they're freed from the weight of an object.

Crushing injuries damage muscles, bones, tissues and ligaments. On top of that, they cause the muscles to release toxins, which could put your life at risk.

What happens during a crushing injury?

When the body gets crushed under the weight of a vehicle or large object, the muscle cells rupture. Then, the cells become ischemic from the pressure. Without releasing the muscles, they could die from a lack of oxygen and blood flow within an hour. If only circulatory ischemia is present, the patient's muscles can survive up to four hours before dying.

Once the muscular tissue begins to die, toxins release into the body. These toxins include lactic acid, nitric oxide vasodilation, thromboplastin disseminated and potassium.

What happens when toxins enter the body?

At that point, the lactic acid could cause dysrhythmias and metabolic acidosis. Potassium released into the body causes hyperkalemia. Blood coagulates from the sudden burst of thromboplastin. Finally, the patient may worsen from hypovolemic shock due to nitric oxide vasodilation.

To prevent serious complications, patients with crushing injuries have to receive treatment as quickly as possible following an injury. The longer a patient waits, the more the toxins build up. When the pressure causing the crushing injury releases, the toxins flood the body and cause symptoms that could become life-threatening.

Those who are in collisions and suffer crushing injuries need help as soon as possible. Immediate medical care is necessary to prevent shock and death from the release of stored toxins. With quick treatment, it may be possible to save a life.

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As Seen on Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hanson