Shock happens when not enough blood and oxygen can get to your organs and tissues. It causes very low blood pressure and may be life threatening. It often happens along with a serious injury.
There are several kinds of shock. Hypovolemic shock happens when you lose a lot of blood or fluids. Causes include internal or external bleeding, dehydration, burns, and severe vomiting and/or diarrhea. Septic shock is caused by infections in the bloodstream. A severe allergic reaction can cause anaphylactic shock. An insect bite or sting might cause it. Cardiogenic shock happens when the heart cannot pump blood effectively. This may happen after a heart attack. Neurogenic shock is caused by damage to the nervous system.
Symptoms of shock include
- Confusion or lack of alertness
- Loss of consciousness
- Sudden and ongoing rapid heartbeat
- Pale skin
- A weak pulse
- Rapid breathing
- Decreased or no urine output
- Cool hands and feet
Shock is a life-threatening medical emergency and it is important to get help right away. Treatment of shock depends on the cause.
If you suspect a person is in shock, call 911 or your local emergency number. Then immediately take the following steps:
- Lay the person down and elevate the legs and feet slightly, unless you think this may cause pain or further injury.
- Keep the person still and don’t move him or her unless necessary.
- Begin CPR if the person shows no signs of life, such as breathing, coughing or movement.
- Loosen tight clothing and, if needed, cover the person with a blanket to prevent chilling.
- Don’t let the person eat or drink anything.
- If the person vomits or begins bleeding from the mouth, turn him or her onto a side to prevent choking, unless you suspect a spinal injury.
We also offer a free certificate of completion. To receive the certificate you must pass a 50-question test with a score of 70 or higher. Check our Basic First Aid Certificate of Completion page for more information.