MedLines: Facts about Shock

By Patience Joseph Mamman


What is shock?
This is a life threatening condition resulting from insufficient circulation of blood round the body. Shock is classified as a medical emergency. Shock often accompanies severe injuries or illness and can lead to other conditions such as hypoxia (low oxgen supply), cardiac arrest and vital organ damage.

Types of Shock

Hypovolemic Shock: This occurs due to reduced blood volume due to low blood pressure which results from the following;

  • Severe heamorrhage.
  • Severe vomitting and diarrhea
  • Severe burns.

Cardieogenic Shock: This occurs in a situation where there’s not enough blood in circulation resulting from acute heart disease that weakens and damages the heart muscles. Eg Myocardial infarction, Cardiac failure.

Septic Shock: This occurs in illnesses resulting from severe infections from baterial toxins which when released into circulation can lead to shock. The toxins released into the blood stream cause a widespread vasodilation of the blood vessels and sudden drop in blood pressure.

Neurogenic Shock: This is caused by spinal injury most times from road traffic accidents.

Anaphylactic Shock: This oocurs as a severe type of allergic reaction to certain foods, drugs, insect stings and others.

Signs and Symptoms.
1. Low blood pressure.
2. Rapid shallow breathing.
3. Cold, clammy skin.
4. Rapid, weak pulse.
5. Dizziness
6. Fainting.

What to do.

1. Seek immediate medical help. Shock is a medical emergency.
2. While waiting for help you can do the following:

  • keep the victim lying down, preferably in a reclining position. This helps to reduce the work load on the heart;
  • elevate the victim’s feet and legs. This encourages return of blood to the heart;
  • conserve body heat. Keep the victim warm, particularly in cold weather, by placing him on a blanket or otherwise, protecting him from the cold floor or ground but avoid overheating him;
  • keep the victim quiet, avoid unnecessary questions and conversations as this may drain his remaining energy;
  • administer drinking water cautiously when requested for by the victim, a sip at a time will do, and;
  • get the victim to the hospital as fast as possible.