Your body enters shock when you don’t have enough blood circulating through
your system to keep your organs and tissues functioning properly. It can be
caused by any injury or condition that affects the flow of blood through your
body. Shock can cause multiple organ failure and lead to life-threatening
There are many types of shock. They fall under four main types, which are
based on what has affected the flow of blood. The four major types are:
All forms of shock are life threatening. If you develop symptoms of shock,
get medical help immediately.
are the signs and symptoms of shock?
If you go into shock, you may experience one or more of the following:
- rapid, weak, or absent pulse
- irregular heart beat
- rapid, shallow breathing
- cool, clammy skin
- dilated pupils
- lackluster eyes
- chest pain
- decrease in urine
- thirst and dry mouth
- low blood sugar
- loss of consciousness
causes shock to occur?
Anything that affects the flow of blood through your body can cause shock.
Some causes of shock include:
- severe allergic reaction
- significant blood loss
- heart failure
- blood infections
are the major types of shock?
There are four major types of shock, each of which can be caused by a number of different
Obstructive shock occurs when blood can’t get where it needs to go. A
pulmonary embolism is one condition that may cause an interruption to blood
flow. Conditions that can cause a buildup of air or fluid in the chest cavity can
also lead to obstructive shock. These include:
- pneumothorax, or collapsed lung
when blood collects in the space between the chest wall and lung
- cardiac tamponade, when blood or fluids fill the space between the sac that
surrounds the heart and the heart muscle
Damage to your heart can decrease the blood flow to your body, leading to
cardiogenic shock. Common causes of cardiogenic shock include:
- damage to your heart muscle
- irregular heart rhythm
- very slow heart rhythm
Conditions that cause your blood vessels to lose their tone can cause
distributive shock. When your blood vessels lose their tone, they can become so
open and floppy that not enough blood pressure supplies your organs. Distributive
shock can result in symptoms including:
shock is a type of distributive shock. It’s a complication of a severe
allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Allergic
reactions occur when your body mistakenly treats a harmless substance as
harmful. This triggers a dangerous immune response. Anaphylaxis is usually
caused by allergic reactions to food, insect venom, medications, or latex.
Septic shock is
also a form of distributive shock. Sepsis, also known as blood
poisoning, is a condition caused by infections that lead to bacteria entering
your bloodstream. Septic shock occurs when bacteria and their toxins cause
serious damage to tissues or organs in your body.
Drug toxicities and brain injuries can also lead to distributive shock.
Hypovolemic shock is caused when there isn’t enough blood in your blood
vessels to carry oxygen to your organs. This can be caused by severe blood loss,
for example, from injuries.
Your blood delivers oxygen and vital nutrients to your organs. If you lose
too much blood, your organs can’t function properly. This type of shock can
also happen from serious dehydration.
is shock diagnosed?
First responders and doctors often recognize shock by its external symptoms.
They may also check for:
- low blood pressure
- weak pulse
- rapid heartbeat
Once they’ve diagnosed shock, their first priority is to provide lifesaving
treatment to get blood circulating through your body as quickly as possible. This
can be done by giving fluid, drugs, blood products, and supportive care. It will not resolve unless you can find and
treat the cause.
Once you’re stable, your doctor can try to diagnose the cause of shock. To
do so, they may order one or more tests, such as imaging or blood tests.
Your doctor may order imaging tests to check for injuries or damage to your
internal tissues and organs, such as:
- bone fractures
- organ ruptures
- muscle or tendon tears
- abnormal growths
Such tests include:
Your doctor may use blood tests to look for signs of:
- significant blood loss
- infection in your blood
- drug or medication overdose
How is shock
Shock can lead to unconsciousness, breathing problems, and even cardiac
arrest. If you suspect that you’re experiencing shock, get medical help
immediately. If you suspect that someone else has gone into shock, call 911 and
provide first-aid treatment until professional help arrives.
First aid treatment
If you suspect someone has gone into shock, call 911. Then follow these
If they’re unconscious:
- Check to see if they’re still breathing and have a
- If you don’t detect breathing or a heartbeat, begin CPR.
If they’re breathing:
- Lay them down on their back.
- Elevate their feet at least 12 inches above the ground.
This position, known as the shock position, helps direct blood to their vital
organs where it’s most needed.
- Cover them with a blanket or extra clothing to help
keep them warm.
- Check their breathing and heart rate regularly for
If you suspect they’ve injured their head, neck, or back, avoid moving them.
Apply first aid to any visible wounds. If you suspect they’re experiencing
an allergic reaction, ask them if they have an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen).
People with severe allergies often carry this device.
It contains an easy-to-inject needle with a dose of hormone called
epinephrine. You can use it to treat anaphylaxis.
If they begin to vomit, turn their head sideways. This helps prevent
choking. If you suspect they’ve injured their neck or back, avoid turning their
head. Instead, stabilize their neck and roll their entire body to the side to
clear the vomit out.
Your doctor’s treatment plan for shock will depend on the cause of your
condition. Different types of shock are treated differently. For example, your
doctor may use:
- epinephrine and other drugs to treat anaphylactic shock
- blood transfusion to replace lost blood and treat
- medications, heart surgery, or other interventions to
treat cardiogenic shock
- antibiotics to treat septic shock
you fully recover from shock?
It’s possible to fully recover from shock. But if it isn’t treated quickly enough, shock can
lead to permanent organ damage, disability, and even death. It’s critical to
call 911 immediately if you suspect that you’re experiencing shock or find
someone with symptoms of shock.
Your chances of recovery and long-term outlook depend on many factors,
- the cause of shock
length of time you were in shock
- the area and extent of organ damage that you sustained
- the treatment and care that you received
- your age and medical history
shock be prevented?
Some forms and cases of shock are preventable. Take steps to lead a safe and
healthy lifestyle. For example:
- If you’ve been diagnosed with severe allergies, avoid
your triggers, carry an epinephrine auto-injector, and use it at the first
sign of an anaphylactic reaction.
- To lower your risk of blood loss from injuries, wear
protective gear when taking part in contact sports, riding your bike,
using dangerous equipment, and wear a seatbelt when traveling in motor
- To lower your chances of heart damage, eat a
well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and second-hand
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. This is
especially important when you’re spending time in very hot or humid