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What Is Shock And How To Treat It

what is shock and how to treat it

Everyone has heard the term ‘shock’ when referring to the medical condition, but it is often ill defined and misunderstood.  To really understand what shock is, it must be realized that every part of the body, from the cells to the tissues and organs, needs a fairly constant supply of oxygen and glucose (sugar).   These two things feed the cells so that they can perform their metabolic functions, which in turn power the tissues and organs.  When there is an interruption of this process, when the cells are not getting oxygen and glucose, the body becomes starved and begins to shut down.  The body will try to compensate for this by pulling as much blood back to the body core as possible, but if shock continues, the cells will begin to die, then the tissues and organs, and finally death will occur.  The biggest cause of shock is blood loss, although shock can also be caused by infection, dehydration, or congestive heart failure.

The Symptoms Of Shock

Shock may be hard to identify, but there are some symptoms that can help to pin down the cause of the victim’s distress.  The patient will have a clammy, moist skin, often with excessive sweating.  The heart will probably beat rapidly, but shallowly, and the pulse will be weak. Breathing will likewise be shallow and rapid.  The person may be confused, or anxious, or even unconscious, and it is important to begin treating them for shock immediately to prevent any further deterioration of their condition.

Begin Treatment Right Away

If shock is suspected, start taking care of the victim immediately.  Call emergency services at 911, then try to see what is causing the condition.  Bleeding can be a major cause of shock, and if this is the problem, take steps to stop the bleeding as much as possible while waiting for help to arrive.  The most serious kind of bleeding is arterial bleeding and it can be discerned because the blood will pump out as the heart beats.  Apply a bandage and pressure immediately, and do not let up until the paramedics arrive.  If you are unable to stop the bleeding this way, apply a tourniquet.

Check to see whether there is anything obstructing the person’s breathing, and try to open the passage by tilting back the head, then lifting the chin.  A heart attack can also cause shock, and in this case begin CPR.

Put The Person In The Correct Position

The shock victim should be placed on their back with their feet elevated ten to twelve inches above the head.  Loosen their clothing so that nothing will impair normal circulation.  Cover them with a blanket if they seem cool, and removed coverings if they are too warm.  Do not give anything by mouth, not even liquids, and if they vomit, turn their head to the side and clean out their mouth.

When the person is taken to the emergency room, the first thing will be to administer oxygen.  If bleeding is the cause of the shock, a blood transfusion will be given.  Medications to raise the blood pressure are also often delivered intravenously, and the primary cause of the shock will be determined and treated.

Shock is a very serious thing. While we offer first aid kits to fix injuries such as scraps bruises and even burns, someone suffering from shock needs emergency attention from paramedics. Know what to do before paramedics arrive and always keep a first aid kit handy, but never try to treat shock completely alone. Know when an injury is to much for you to handle without professional help.