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First Aid For Shock

First Aid For Shock


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.


What are the causes and risks of the injury?

There are many causes for shock, including:
  • heart attacks
  • severe trauma, such as a serious motor vehicle accident
  • infections
  • diabetes
  • loss of blood
  • head injury
  • anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction
  • severe vomiting
  • hypothermia, or a drop in body temperature due to cold exposure
  • severe diarrhea
Shock is a life-threatening condition and requires emergency medical treatment immediately.


What can be done to prevent the injury?

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.


How is the injury recognized?

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 pressure
  • blood pressure drops when going from lying to sitting or standing
  • weak but rapid heartbeat
  • rapid, shallow breathing
  • fever 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.


What are the treatments for the injury?

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.
  • Side Effects

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    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.

    After Treatment

    What happens after treatment for the injury?

    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.

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