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Shock may result from trauma, heatstroke, allergic reactions, severe infection, poisoning, or other causes. Shock is essentially a decrease in blood flow to the brain and other important organs. When shock occurs internal organs don’t receive enough oxygen and have difficulty functioning.

Types of shock

  • Hemorrhagic (resulting from the loss of blood)
  • Metabolic (resulting from profound fluid loss in an untreated illness)
  • Carcinogenic (resulting from injury to the heart itself)
  • Neurogenic (resulting from the loss of effective nervous control of blood vessels)
  • Toxic or septic (resulting from the effect of toxic substances on the body)
  • Respiratory (resulting from impaired breathing)
  • Psychogenic (fainting)
  • Anaphylactic (a form of toxic shock that follows an overwhelming allergic reaction)

Depending on the specific cause and type of shock, symptoms will include one or more of the following:

  • The skin is sweaty, cool and clammy. It may appear pale or gray.
  • The eyes lack luster and sometimes pupils are dilated.
  • The person may be conscious or unconscious.

As shock develops, there may be:

  • Weakness and giddiness
  • Nausea, and sometimes vomiting
  • Thirst
  • The pulse is weak
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Anxiety, agitation and restlessness

Treatment of shock:

  • Do not let the victim move unnecessarily, eat, drink or smoke
  • Do not leave the victim unattended. Reassure the victim constantly
  • Treat any cause of shock which can be remedied (such as external bleeding)
  • Lay the victim down, keeping the head low
  • Raise and support the victim’s legs
  • Loosen tight clothing, braces, straps or belts, in order to reduce constriction at the neck, chest and waist
  • Insulate the victim from the cold, both above and below
  • Check and record breathing, pulse and level of response. Be prepared to resuscitate the victim if necessary

If the person vomits or drools:

  • Turn the head to one side so the victim will not choke. Do this as long as there is no suspicion of a spinal injury.
  • If a spinal injury is suspected, “log roll” the victim instead. Keep the victims head, neck and back in line and roll the victim as a unit.