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How to treat Shock

How to treat shock

Shock is a life-threatening medical emergency where there is limited blood flow through the body. The limited blood flow thereby reduces the amount of oxygen that the blood carries to the body's cells. Severe injuries and illnesses are often accompanied by shock, and the treatment should be aimed at the underlying injury or illness. When someone is in shock, enough oxygen or blood is not getting to their organs, and if this is not treated, it can lead to permanent damage of the organ or even death.

There are different types of shocks, and they include:

  • Septic shock: This type of shock results from the multiplication of bacteria and the blood and releasing of toxins. Pneumonia, skin infections, tract infections, meningitis, and intra-abdominal infections are all common causes of this type of shock.

  • Anaphylactic shock: This is a type of shock that arises from an allergic reaction or severe hypersensitivity. Causes of this type of shock include allergy to medicines, insect stings, or food, etc.

  • Cardiogenic shock: This type of shock occurs when the heart is damaged and cannot supply enough blood to the body. This can be from congestive heart failure or a heart attack.

  • Hypovolemic shock: This is a type of shock where there is severe blood or fluid, which makes the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body. This can result from a traumatic injury or severe anemia, in which case there is not enough blood to transport oxygen through the body.

  • Neurogenic shock: This shock is a result of an injury to the spine, usually from a traumatic accident. Then the injury to the spine may cause damage to the nerves that control the width of the blood vessels, and the blood vessels below the spinal injury dilate and cause a drop in blood pressure.

  • Obstructive shock: This type of shock is a result of blood flow being stopped. It can be caused by cardiac tamponade or pulmonary embolism.

  • Endocrine shock: This is a type of shock that happens in a critically ill person, where a severe disorder of the hormones might stop the heart from functioning normally and eventually lead to a life-threatening blood pressure drop.

Causes of shock

There are different causes of shock, and they include

  • Heart conditions such as heart failure, heart attack.

  • Heavy bleeding internally or externally, like bleeding from a serious injury or a ruptured blood vessel.

  • Dehydration, especially severe dehydration or heat illness.

  • Infections

  • Serious allergic reactions

  • Spinal injuries

  • Diarrhea or persistent vomiting

  • Burns

Signs and symptoms of shock

The key signs of shock are low blood pressure and rapid heart rate. The symptoms of all types of shock are:

  • Cool and clammy skin, ashy or bluish

  • Breathing will be rapid and shallow

  • Pulse will be weak and rapid

  • Feeling light-headed or dizziness

  • Weakness

  • Feeling thirsty

  • Feeling sick or vomiting

Then depending on the type of shock, any of these symptoms below might also be seen

  • Agitation, confusion, and anxiety

  • Fluctuating levels of response.

  • Low or no output of urine

  • Bluish fingernails and lips

  • Eyes appearing like they are staring

  • Sweating

  • Chest pain

  • Seizures

First aid

If you notice any of the symptoms in a person and suspect that they are about to suffer shock, the steps to take in helping them include:

  • Do a check on the victim. Check if the person is responsive and if they are breathing normally. Also, check to see if the person is injured or bleeding severely.

  • If the victim is unresponsive or there is severe bleeding, contact your local emergency number, such as 911.

  • Then prepare to provide the person with basic life support.

  • If there is no visible evidence of trauma, place the person on their back and then raise their legs so that their feet will be about 6 to 12 inches above the ground. If the person is breathing but unresponsive and there is no suspected spinal injury, then place the person in the recovery position.

  • Loosen any restrictive clothing the person has on.

  • Watch out for vomiting. If the person vomits, then turn their head in order to drain the mouth.

  • Use a coat or blanket to regulate the body temperature of the person.

  • Do not allow a shock victim to drink, eat, or smoke.

  • Then stay with the person until help comes.


Shock is a life-threatening medical emergency that needs to be immediately treated by a medical professional but giving first aid early to anyone experiencing shock while awaiting the arrival of emergency care can help to prevent the shock from worsening.

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