Shock: Symptoms, Causes & Support

In the case of a serious injury or illness, it’s important to look out for signs of shock. Shock is a medical emergency that occurs when the body’s organs and tissues do not receive adequate oxygen and nutrients, leading to a life-threatening condition.

Shock is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the circulatory system fails to provide enough oxygenated blood to the body and, as a result, deprives the vital organs of oxygen.

This is usually the result of severe blood loss, but it can also occur after severe burns, severe vomiting, a heart attack, a bacterial infection, or a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

The type of shock described here isn’t the same as the emotional response of feeling shocked, which can also occur after an accident.

Signs of shock include:

1. Rapid or weak pulse

2. Rapid, shallow breathing

3. Pale, cool, clammy skin

4. Weakness or fatigue

5. Confusion or disorientation

6. Dizziness or fainting

7. Nausea or vomiting

8. Low blood pressure

Seek medical help immediately if you notice that someone has any of these signs of shock.

You should:

  • call 999 as soon as possible and ask for an ambulance
  • treat any obvious injuries
  • lie the person down if their injuries allow you to and, if possible, raise and support their legs
  • Loosen any restrictive clothing 
  • use a coat or blanket to keep them warm
  • do not give them anything to eat or drink
  • give them lots of comfort and reassurance
  • monitor the person – if they stop breathing, start CPR and call 999 to update them

If you suspect someone is going into shock, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention and call for emergency services. In the meantime, there are several steps you can take to help:

1. Have the person lie down and elevate their legs to help increase blood flow to vital organs.

2. Loosen tight clothing and cover them with a blanket to help keep them warm.

3. If the person is conscious, have them sip on water or a sports drink to help replace fluids lost due to sweating.

4. Try to keep the person calm, as stress and fear can exacerbating the symptoms of shock.

Remember, shock is a serious medical condition that requires immediate attention from a healthcare provider.

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