Published: 2018-03-20T15:27:00Z

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. Do you know how to best help someone in shock?

Shock is usually the result of severe bleeding, which can kill. If the casualty has lost a large quantity of blood this can cause a reduction in blood supply to the brain (don't forget that children can't afford to lose as much blood as adults).  It can also occur after severe burns, severe vomiting, a heart attack, 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.

Recognition

  • Pale clammy skin (with blue or grey tinges if it is severe)
  • Dizziness or passing out (especially if they try to stand or sit up)
  • A fast, weak pulse
  • Rapid shallow breathing

Treatment

  • Treat the cause (e.g. bleeding)
  • Lay the casualty down.  If there is no evidence to suggest broken bones, elevate the legs
  • Call 999 for emergency help
  • Keep the casualty warm (but don't overheat them)
  • Do not give them anything to eat or drink
  • Give them lots of comfort and reassurance
  • Loosen tight clothing and monitor breathing
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