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What You Should Know About Shock

Shock is a critical condition brought on by the sudden drop in blood flow through the body. Shock may result from trauma, heatstroke, blood loss, an allergic reaction, severe infection, poisoning, severe burns or other causes. When a person is in shock, his or her organs aren’t getting enough blood or oxygen. If untreated, this can lead to permanent organ damage or even death.

This is also called Psychologic Shock.

Psychologic shock is caused by a traumatic event and is also known as acute stress disorder. This type of shock causes a strong emotional response and may cause physical responses as well.

The focus of this article is on the multiple causes of physiologic shock.

Your body experiences shock when you don’t have enough blood circulating through your system to keep organs and tissues functioning properly.

Signs and symptoms of shock vary depending on circumstances and may include:

  • Cool, clammy skin
  • Pale or ashen skin
  • Bluish tinge to lips or fingernails (or gray in the case of dark complexions)
  • Rapid pulse
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Changes in mental status or behavior, such as anxiousness or agitation
  • confusion
  • anxiety
  • decrease in urine
  • thirst and dry mouth
  • low blood sugar
  • loss of consciousness

What causes shock to occur?

Anything that affects the flow of blood through your body can cause shock. Some causes of shock include:

  • severe allergic reaction
  • significant blood loss
  • heart failure
  • blood infections
  • dehydration
  • poisoning
  • burns

Types Of Shock

Septic shock

Results from bacteria multiplying in the blood and releasing toxins. Common causes of this are pneumonia, urinary tract infections, skin infections (cellulitis), intra-abdominal infections (such as a ruptured appendix), and meningitis.

Anaphylactic shock

Is a type of severe hypersensitivity or allergic reaction. Causes include allergy to insect stings, medicines, or foods (nuts, berries, seafood), etc.

Cardiogenic shock 

Happens when the heart is damaged and unable to supply sufficient blood to the body. This can be the end result of a heart attack or congestive heart failure.

Hypovolemic shock

Is caused by severe blood and fluid loss, such as from traumatic bodily injury, which makes the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body, or severe anemia where there is not enough blood to carry oxygen through the body.

Neurogenic shock

Is caused by spinal cord injury, usually as a result of a traumatic accident or injury.


How is shock treated?

Shock can lead to unconsciousness, breathing problems, and even cardiac arrest:

  • If you suspect that you’re experiencing shock, get medical help immediately.
  • If you suspect that someone else has gone into shock, call 911 and provide first aid treatment until professional help arrives.

First aid treatment

 If Some one has gone into shock and you cant reach a hospital immediately then you must follow these steps:

  1. If they’re unconscious, check to see if they’re still breathing and have a heartbeat.
  2. If you don’t detect breathing or a heartbeat, begin CPR. It is crucial to know what to do, that is why getting a CPR and first-aid certificate should be mandatory for everyone.

If they’re breathing:

  1. Lay them down on their back.
  2. Elevate their feet at least 12 inches above the ground. This position, known as the shock position, helps direct blood to their vital organs where it’s most needed.
  3. Cover them with a blanket or extra clothing to help keep them warm.
  4. Check their breathing and heart rate regularly for changes.

If you suspect the person has injured their head, neck, or back, avoid moving them.

Apply first aid to any visible wounds. If you suspect the person is experiencing an allergic reaction, ask them if they have an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen). People with severe allergies often carry this device.

It contains an easy-to-inject needle with a dose of hormone called epinephrine. You can use it to treat anaphylaxis.

If they begin to vomit, turn their head sideways. This helps prevent choking. If you suspect they’ve injured their neck or back, avoid turning their head. Instead, stabilize their neck and roll their entire body to the side to clear the vomit out.

Medical care

Your doctor’s treatment plan for shock will depend on the cause of your condition. Different types of shock are treated differently. For example, your doctor may use:

  • epinephrine and other drugs to treat anaphylactic shock
  • blood transfusion to replace lost blood and treat hypovolemic shock
  • medications, heart surgery, or other interventions to treat cardiogenic shock
  • antibiotics to treat septic shock

Can you fully recover from shock?

It’s possible to fully recover from shock. But if it isn’t treated quickly enough, shock can lead to permanent organ damage, disability, and even death. It’s critical to call 911 immediately if you suspect that you or someone you’re with is experiencing shock.

Your chances of recovery and long-term outlook depend on many factors, including:

  • the cause of shock
  • the length of time you were in shock
  • the area and extent of organ damage that you sustained
  • the treatment and care that you received
  • your age and medical history
Can shock be prevented?

Some forms and cases of shock are preventable. Take steps to lead a safe and healthy lifestyle. For example:

  • If you’ve been diagnosed with severe allergies, avoid your triggers, carry an epinephrine auto-injector, and use it at the first sign of an anaphylactic reaction.
  • To lower your risk of blood loss from injuries, wear protective gear when taking part in contact sports, riding your bike, and using dangerous equipment. Wear a seatbelt when traveling in motor vehicles.
  • To lower your chances of heart damage, eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and secondhand smoke.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. This is especially important when you’re spending time in very hot or humid environments.


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