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Understanding And Treating Shock

A person who has sustained a serious injury is susceptible to shock, a condition that gets worse over time and is sometimes referred to as "running out of life forces."

If the potential is identified early enough, first aid can reduce the development of shock. Even though first aid is only minimally effective in fully developed shock, it is still crucial to provide care until the victim can be transported to a hospital.

Medical terminology uses the word "shock" to describe a physical condition in which the heart fails to adequately circulate blood to every part of the body, rather than an emotional upset. It results from a loss of blood volume, usually after a serious injury.

Due to the body's reduced blood volume during severe bleeding, the tissues receive insufficient amounts of oxygen and other nutrients, which weakens the heartbeat. Particularly, the brain regions responsible for controlling blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration no longer function as they should. Therefore, a vicious circle is started.

Classes of shock

The following situations can result in various types of shock:

Hemorrhagic shock also known as "bleeding shock." This is the most typical type of severe shock brought on by blood loss, such as that from burns or injuries from crushing objects. Both internal and external bleeding are possible. Dehydration or excessive perspiration may hasten the onset of shock in the person. This frequently occurs when a burns or crushing injury takes place in a hot environment.

Cardiogenic shock also known as "heart shock." It is brought on by the heart's inability to adequately pump blood to every part of the body. Electrical shock, heart attacks, and heart injuries are common causes. If left untreated, conditions like low blood pressure and ankle oedema may cause enough damage to result in cardiogenic shock.

Neurogenic shock also known as "nerve shock." It happens as a result of the nervous system's inability to regulate blood vessel diameter. Beyond the point where the available blood can fill the additional volume, the blood vessels enlarge. Blood no longer adequately fills the system and instead collects in blood vessels in some parts of the body.

This type of shock is typically brought on by spinal cord or brain injury-related nerve paralysis. Strong abdominal blows can also damage the nerves, resulting in neurogenic shock.

Respiratory shock also known as "lung shock." This happens when the lungs are unable to deliver enough oxygen to the tissues for circulation. Watch out for it if you have a deep chest wound, sternum or rib fracture, neck or spinal cord injury, or an obstruction of the airway.

Biochemical shock likewise known as "body fluid shock." Severe vomiting, polyuria, or diarrhoea may cause it (excessive urination). Fluid loss from the bloodstream results from these conditions.

Anaphylactic shock also known as "allergy shock." This is the body's potentially fatal response to an allergen (something to which the person is extremely allergic).

Symptoms and signs

The most significant symptom of shock is:

  • Weakness
  • Other symptoms may include:
  • Nausea
  • Thirst
  • Dizziness
  • Coolness
  • Restlessness and fear
  • The signs to look out for are:
  • Profuse (external) bleeding
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting/Lack of responsiveness
  • Rapid and weak pulse
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Marked drop in blood pressure (as low as 90/60, or below)
  • Pale, moist and cool skin. Often profuse sweating
  • Lacklustre eyes, dilated pupils
  • General restlessness

It's important to keep in mind that the victim may appear tough and resilient in the moments following a serious injury (for instance), but the shock machinery may already be in motion inside of him. Before he exhibits the typical symptoms, it could take him minutes or it could take him several hours.

First aid for shock

A person in shock needs to receive medical care right away. In the interim:

  • If the person is breathing, make sure his head is in the right position to maintain an adequate airway. You should perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if he is not breathing.
  • Strike down the bleeding. The quickest and most effective way to do this is to apply direct pressure to the area of the injury. Instead of wasting time looking for a dressing, apply pressure to the wound with your finger or hand until the bleeding stops. The risk of uncontrolled bleeding greatly outweighs the risk of a potential infection, despite the fact that you might be contaminating the wound. A person in shock is especially at risk of dying from blood volume loss.)
  • Warm up the patient. The goal is to maintain his body temperature as closely as possible to normal. If at all possible, take off any wet clothing, and wrap the patient loosely in blankets or an overcoat. But be careful not to overheat the patient; doing so could cause a significant amount of blood to be drawn to the skin's surface from deep within the body, where it is needed for vital organs. Put a blanket under patients who have suffered head, neck, or spine injuries without moving them.
  • Make sure to position and rest. Treat the patient where he or she is, unless the area is dangerous due to a fire, toxic fumes, a collapsing building, etc. A shock patient's chances of survival are better the more relaxed he is. Avoid rough or excessive handling because movement of the body tends to make shock worse. A patient who may have a fracture should be especially careful when being moved, especially if his back is involved. Keep the patient flat on his back if the extremities have sustained severe injuries. The patient may feel most comfortable (and breathe more easily) in a semi-reclining position with his head raised a little if they are conscious but appear to have respiratory or cardiac issues.
  • Give nothing orally. Never ingest food, medications, or even tea or coffee. If the patient vomits, whatever he brings up could aspirate into his windpipe and suffocate him.
  • Boost patient confidence. The prevention of shock is greatly helped by lowering mental tension. Talk calmly and confidently to the patient, providing as much reassurance about your actions as you can. Remove any agitated or demoralizing bystanders with tact but firmness.
  • Finally, keep in mind that even if the patient's condition appears to be quite stable, it is advisable to take all the above steps in circumstances where shock is a real possibility (such as significant blood loss). The moral of the story is to always prepare for shock.


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