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
- 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.