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Shock


Topic Overview

Shock may develop as the result of sudden illness or injury, or bleeding. When the body cannot get enough blood to the vital organsClick here to see an illustration., it goes into shock. Sometimes even a mild injury will lead to shock.

Shock is a life-threatening condition. If a person develops signs of shock, call or other emergency services and begin home treatment immediately.

Signs of shock include:

  • Passing out (losing consciousness).
  • Feeling very dizzy or lightheaded, like you may pass out.
  • Feeling very weak or having trouble standing up.
  • Being less alert. You may suddenly be unable to respond to questions, or you may be confused, restless, or fearful.

Home Treatment

Prompt home treatment can save the person's life.

  • Call or other emergency services.
  • Have the person lie down. If there is an injury to the head, neck, or chest, keep the legs flat. Otherwise, raise the person's legsClick here to see an illustration. at least 12 in. (30 cm).
  • If the person vomits, roll him or her to one side to let fluids drain from the mouth. If you think the person might have a neck or back injury, gently roll the person's head, neck, and shoulders together as a unit (logroll).
  • Stop any bleeding (see stopping severe bleeding), and splint any broken bones (see splinting).
  • Keep the person warm but not hot. Put a blanket under the person, and cover him or her with a sheet or blanket, depending on the weather. If the person is in a hot place, try to keep the person cool.
  • Take the person's pulse in case medical staff on the phone need to know what it is. See how to take a pulseClick here to see an illustration.. Take it again if the person's condition changes.
  • Try to keep the person calm.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerPatrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine
Last RevisedApril 20, 2010
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