The Dangers of Shock

Shock is a life-threatening condition characterized by the failure of body functions. This is caused by the inadequate amount of blood circulating the body after a serious injury. The blood acts as a carrier of oxygen and nutrients to the different organs of the body. Thus, when there is a shortage of blood circulating the body, the body does not get the necessary substances it needs in order to function properly. When the body loses more of these vital substances than it is replaced, the organs begin to fail. Signs and symptoms of shock begin to manifest after the heart begins to fail pumping enough blood. The main sign of shock is hypotension or low blood pressure.

Some of the potential complications that can develop from shock are heightened risk for infection, loss of body part and even, death.

Shock is considered a medical emergency it requires immediate medical attention. It is also known as circulatory shock.

Learn how to administer first aid to victims of shock by enrolling in First Aid Classes and CPR Courses.

Types of Shock

All types of shock are considered fatal, especially if left untreated. The following are the different types of shock:

  • Hypovolemic shock: caused by great loss of blood and fluid volume
  • Cardiogenic shock: caused by heart problems
  • Septic shock: caused by body infections
  • Anaphylactic shock: caused by a severe allergic reaction
  • Neurogenic shock: caused by nervous system damage

Causes of Shock

The following may lead to shock:

  • Severe bleeding, both internal and external
  • Crushing injury
  • Infection
  • Heart attack
  • Perforation
  • Shell bomb and bullet wound
  • Rupture of tubal pregnancies
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Starvation
  • Other diseases may also lead to shock

There are certain factors that can contribute to shock, these include:

  • Pain
  • Rough handling
  • Improper handling
  • Continuous bleeding
  • Extreme heat or cold
  • Fatigue

Signs and Symptoms of Shock

The main sign of shock is extreme hypotension. The signs and symptoms may vary depending on the type of shock and the severity of the damage, but the following are the common signs and symptoms:

Early Stage:

  • Pale or cyanotic (bluish) lips and fingernails
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Irregular breathing
  • Rapid and weak pulse
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Thirst

Late Stage:

First Aid Management for Shock

If an individual showing signs and symptoms of shock, cell for emergency medical services immediately or have someone drive the victim to the nearest emergency room. The objectives of first aid for shock include: (1) improving blood circulation, (2) ensuring sufficient supply of oxygen, and (3) maintaining normal body temperature. The following steps are recommended after calling the local paramedics:


Cover the casualty of shock with a blanket to keep them warm

  • Check the casualty’s circulation, airway and breathing. Initiate rescue breathing and CPR if necessary.
  • Monitor for the rate of breathing every 5 minutes even if the victim is capable of breathing on his or her own
  • If the casualty has no injury to the head, neck, spine or leg and is conscious, help the casualty into a shock position. Lay the person down flatly with the feet elevated at 12 inches. This will increase circulation. Do not elevate the head.
  • If there is a suspected head, neck, spine or leg injury, do not move the casualty unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • If there is a suspected spinal injury, support the casualty’s head, neck and back in a line. Roll the casualty to the side as a unit.
  • If there are injuries, such as bleeding or broken bones, apply appropriate first aid.
  • If there is no injury, turn the casualty’s head to the side to keep the airways open.
  • Cover the casualty with a blanket or coat to keep the casualty warm.
  • Loosen any tight clothing.

Shock, or circulatory shock, is a life-threatening condition where there is failure of body functions due to inadequate amount of blood circulating the body after a serious injury. Shock is considered a medical emergency.

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