The throat encompasses internal and external body structures extending from the tonsils down to the opening of the trachea. Internal throat issues can arise from swallowing objects that are excessively large or sharp. At the same time, external problems may result from impacts to the throat or injuries involving strangulation, causing harm to the throat.
Traumatic injury to the throat or neck area presents a grave health concern, with potentially life-threatening consequences depending on the extent of the damage. Your prospects for recovery hinge on receiving optimal medical treatment and appropriate rehabilitation. If you or a loved one has sustained a severe throat injury due to someone else's negligence, our legal team at AutoAccident.com stands ready to assist you in pursuing a compensation claim to cover your damages. While you focus on your recovery and receive medical care, our seasoned throat injury attorneys will tirelessly advocate on your behalf, working to secure the total compensation you deserve. Contact us at (916) 921-6400 for complimentary and supportive guidance during this challenging time.What is a Throat Injury?
Throat injuries can result from either penetrating or blunt trauma. When a throat injury causes a break in the skin, it has the potential to cause extensive damage due to the presence of major arteries and veins within the throat, which can lead to severe bleeding. To assess the extent of injury, it's essential to closely examine a sore throat to determine its depth and whether any significant blood vessels have been affected.
Blunt trauma to the throat can lead to injuries in various areas, including the trachea, esophagus, spine, and even the brain stem. In cases of severe blunt throat trauma, it's advisable to ask the same questions as when evaluating a potential concussion, as there may be an associated brain injury alongside the throat trauma.
Throat injuries can result in damage to the trachea, causing difficulties in breathing, swallowing, or hoarseness. Vocal cord damage can lead to speech difficulties, ranging from a hoarse voice to a complete inability to speak if the vocal cords are more than just bruised.
Blunt throat trauma may also affect the cervical spine. If there is any neck pain or discomfort when moving the neck, it is crucial not to move the patient until a cervical spine clearance is obtained through an X-ray examination. In some cases, neck immobilization may be necessary until X-rays confirm the absence of spinal injury.
Due to the presence of vital organs (such as the thyroid), essential blood vessels (including the carotid artery and jugular vein), and critical nerves (the spinal nerves of the cervical spine) in the throat area, any form of blunt or penetrating trauma can potentially cause significant damage, even if the initial injury appears minor.Causes of Throat Pain
Injuries resulting from either blunt or penetrating trauma are intricate due to the presence of numerous delicate and vital structures within the confined space of the throat, making damage to some part of the throat likely. The causes of throat injuries encompass:
- Car accidents may involve impact, blunt force, or cuts from metal or glass.
- Sports-related incidents, such as impacts from other players' limbs or helmets.
- Altercations, including punches or kicks to the throat.
- Accidental falls, where individuals may land on sharp or blunt objects.
- Gunshot wounds can prove highly fatal.
- Knife wounds often strike critical areas within the throat.
Unlike some areas of the body protected by a bony cage, the throat lacks such inherent shielding, leaving it vulnerable to trauma from various sources and in diverse ways.Symptoms of Throat Injury
Specific symptoms overlap with those seen in any soft tissue injury, while others are distinct to throat injuries and their associated structures. These structures include the thyroid gland, significant blood vessels and nerves, the trachea, the esophagus, and the cervical spine.
The symptoms can encompass any of the following:
- Difficulty in swallowing
- A feeling of throat fullness
- Coughing up blood
- Subcutaneous air
- Noticeable swelling in the throat
- Distortion of typical throat landmarks due to swelling
- Bleeding, either within the mouth or externally
- Labored breathing
Throat injuries are more commonly experienced by men than women, primarily due to their engagement in high-risk activities. These activities encompass driving at excessive speeds, displaying reckless driving behavior, participating in high-risk sports like boxing and football, and having a propensity for confrontations that could lead to physical altercations involving punches, kicks, or weapons. Additionally, individuals who engage in martial arts are at an elevated risk of sustaining throat injuries.
Accurate diagnosis of a throat injury hinges on a thorough understanding of the throat's anatomy. In such cases, it is essential to adhere to the ABCs of diagnosis and first aid.
In instances involving bleeding from a laceration or puncture wound, the medical practitioner must assess potential damage to major blood vessels. If the patient's condition is stable, an angiogram is typically conducted to evaluate the integrity of the carotid artery and jugular veins.
For cases involving cervical pain or the possibility thereof, it is crucial to immobilize the cervical spine. Upon arrival at the emergency department, a lateral cervical spine x-ray is performed to rule out significant cervical injuries. Subsequently, the cervical spine is released from immobilization, followed by a comprehensive cervical spine series.
If there is confirmed evidence of a bony cervical spine injury, consulting orthopedic specialists becomes imperative.
When hoarseness of the voice is present, a laryngoscope, a tube equipped with a camera, is introduced into the oral cavity to visualize the vocal cords. This examination helps determine if the cords are fractured, dislocated, or simply swollen due to direct trauma.
In cases where there is a suspicion of a hematoma or other structural issue that cannot be adequately assessed externally, a CT scan or MRI examination is essential. These imaging procedures provide insight into the internal structures of the head and neck, aiding in surgical decision-making. They can also assess tracheal patency, esophageal integrity, and thyroid gland structure.
Treatment for a throat injury encompasses both initial first aid care and subsequent definitive treatment provided in an emergency room or hospital setting.
The initial first aid steps at the injury site are as follows:
- Contact 911 promptly, as these situations can deteriorate rapidly.
- Maintain the individual in a seated, semi-upright position to minimize blood flow to the affected area.
- Gently tilt the head backward to ensure an open airway.
- In case the victim ceases breathing, administer rescue breathing.
- Apply direct pressure to any areas exhibiting bleeding.
- Regularly assess the person's breathing status.
- Apply ice to the sides of the neck to reduce swelling.
- Immobilize the neck to prevent further injury.
- If signs of shock are present, elevate the legs and maintain the patient's warmth.
- In the event of vomiting, carefully roll the patient to one side and clear the airway of any vomit to prevent airway obstruction.
- Continuously monitor the patient's condition until professional help arrives.
Upon arrival at the emergency room, the patient receives an IV to stabilize blood pressure. Medical assessment and intervention may involve intubation or, in some cases, a cricothyrotomy—a procedure that creates an airway in the neck when the upper airway is blocked.
Once adequate breathing is ensured, attention turns to addressing any bleeding. Physicians utilize ice to manage internal bleeding and apply direct pressure to control bleeding from wounds until further evaluation and treatment, which may involve surgical intervention, are possible.
In cases of cervical bony injury, maintaining cervical spine stability may require surgical fusion of the injured bony fragments, overseen by an orthopedic surgeon.
Notably, damage to the thyroid gland does not typically lead to post-injury hypothyroidism in affected individuals.Complications of Throat Infection
In cases where the injury is minor and receives appropriate medical care, the patient may not experience any adverse consequences from the traumatic incident. However, potential complications include:
- Paralysis stemming from a cervical spine fracture.
- Permanent damage to the vocal cords, resulting in dysphonia (voice impairment).
- Brain injury due to prolonged shock, particularly if there is damage to the carotid arteries or jugular veins.
- Stroke resulting from injuries to the carotid arteries.
- Hypothyroidism results from enduring damage to the thyroid gland.
- Tracheal abnormalities.
The throat area is susceptible to a range of injuries, making prompt and correct treatment crucial in preventing life-threatening complications and permanent damage. Unfortunately, these injuries often affect young individuals who have many promising years ahead of them. If you or a loved one has sustained a throat injury due to someone else's negligence and would like to explore your legal options, it is advisable to seek guidance from an experienced personal injury attorney.Throat Injury Lawyer
If you or a family member has endured a throat injury as a result of someone else's negligence, we strongly encourage you to reach out to us for a complimentary and compassionate consultation. At our law firm, we understand the challenges and hardships that accompany such traumatic events. Our dedicated team of legal experts is here to provide you with the support and guidance you need during this difficult time.
To explore your legal avenues and obtain expert advice tailored to your specific situation, please do not hesitate to contact us. Your well-being and legal rights are our top priorities. Feel free to call us at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. We are committed to offering you valuable insights and assistance to help you navigate the complexities of your case effectively.
Editor's Note: updated 11.6.23 Image by iStock [cs 1605]