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Healthy Living

Shock and its Management

Shock is a condition of collapse, which should be treated as top priority, second only to attending to obstructed breathing, stoppage of the heart or severe bleeding.

Conditions in which shock is seen

  • Severe Bleeding: Shock is most often caused due to loss of blood. It may either develop at once or may be delayed. The blood loss could be either seen externally or could be internal within a particular organ or system. The greater the loss of blood, the greater the risk of developing shock. It is important to remember that the slow, steady loss of blood can produce shock.

  • Heart Attacks: Obstructed blood supply to the heart and failure of the function of the heart can produce shock.

  • Severe burns: Extensive areas of the burnt skin surface can produce shock.

  • Severe Bacterial Infections: Discharge of toxins produced by the bacteria into the blood stream can produce shock.

  • Abdominal Emergencies: A burst appendix, perforated intestine or stomach, intestinal obstruction, pancreatitis etc, can produce shock.

  • Excessive Loss of Body Fluids: Diarrhoea, vomiting etc. can produce shock.

  • Crush Injuries: Injuries following explosions, building collapses etc., can produce shock.

Recognising Shock
  • The patient may feel giddy or faint.
  • The skin feels cold and clammy.
  • The face and lips look pale.
  • The pulse may be rapid and weak.
  • The patient may complain of blurring of vision.
  • The patient may vomit.
  • In the later stages of shock the patient becomes unconscious.

Managing Shock
  • Reassure the patient if the patient is conscious.

  • Place the patient comfortably on his back. Except in cases of injury to the head, chest or abdomen, lower the head slightly and turn to one side. In case of vomiting, place in three-quarter back up position.

  • Loosen tight clothing but do not remove clothing.

  • Wrap in light bed sheet or a thin rug.

  • Never use hot water bottles or very warm rugs. Do not rub any part of the body with anything.

  • Do not administer anything by mouth especially in cases of injuries to the chest or abdomen, as an operation may be required soon.

  • If the patient is conscious and there is no injury to the chest or abdomen, give a little water, hot coffee or tea. Never give any alcoholic drinks.

  • Transport the patient quickly to the hospital.

Remember that in shock a delay of even a few minutes may mean death. So attend to the patient as quickly as possible.


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