Shock occurs when blood flow throughout the body is decreased dramatically and the body tissues don't get enough oxygen. This lack of oxygen causes injury to many body systems. There may be brain, kidney, or heart damage; loss of a limb; and intestinal problems.
A person suffering from shock may have one or more of the following symptoms: cool, clammy skin dizzinessfaintingnausea and vomiting unconsciousness weaknessconfusionexcessive thirst shallow breathing excessive sweatingrapid heartbeat anxiety bluish lips and fingernails paleness chest pain inability to urinate
There are many causes for shock, including: heart attackssevere trauma, such as a serious motor vehicle accidentinfectionsdiabetesloss of bloodhead injuryanaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reactionsevere vomitinghypothermia, or a drop in body temperature due to cold exposuresevere diarrhea
Shock is a life-threatening condition and requires emergency medical treatment immediately.
Some cases of shock can be prevented by keeping heart disease and diabetes under control. A person with severe diarrhea or vomiting, infection, or a head injury should be seen by a healthcare provider.
Shock is usually diagnosed by seeing a pattern of change in a person's vital signs. The vital signs include pulse, blood pressure, and breathing. The vital sign pattern used to diagnose shock includes: low blood pressureblood pressure drops when going from lying to sitting or standingweak but rapid heartbeatrapid, shallow breathingfever or hypothermia (low temperature)decreased level of consciousness, such as confusion or coma
Some blood tests can also help show some of the signs of shock. It is the complete picture that gives a diagnosis of shock rather than a single vital sign or lab test.
First aid treatment of a person in shock includes the following steps: Check for signs of circulation, such as normal breathing, coughing, or movement in response to stimulation.Contact the emergency medical system immediately.Start cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, if the person stops breathing or the heart stops beating. Remember "Call, Blow, Pump."Check the victim for unresponsiveness. If there is no response, Call or have someone call 911 and return to the victim. In most locations the emergency dispatcher can assist you with CPR instructions.Tilt the head back and listen for breathing. If not breathing normally, pinch nose and cover the mouth with yours and Blow until you see the chest rise. Give 2 breaths. Each breath should take 1 second.If the victim is still not breathing normally, coughing or moving, begin chest compressions. Push down on the chest 1 and 1/2 to 2 inches 30 times, right between the nipples. Pump at the rate of 100/minute, faster than once per second.Stay with the person until medical assistance arrives.Do not let the person eat or drink anything.
The chest compressions of CPR can cause vomiting, injuries to internal organs, or broken ribs. Vomiting can be a problem if the vomit is caught in the airway and inhaled into the lungs.
Treatment for the effects of shock or for the underlying condition that caused the shock may last a few months or years, or it may need to be continued for the person's entire life.