Shock is an often overlooked and life-threatening medical condition that usually accompanies severe injury or illness. Shock is defined as a condition in which the tissues and organs of the body do not get enough blood flow. As a result of this oxygen imbalance, a buildup of waste occurs and can cause cardiac arrest or even organ damage. Symptoms can worsen rapidly and the condition can result in death if not treated quickly.
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Some of the injuries and conditions that can cause shock include poisoning, extreme pain, heavy external and internal bleeding, broken bones, severe burns, and spinal/back injuries.
Types of Shock that Can Ensue a Major Life-Altering Event
Cardiogenic shock: This occurs when the heart is damaged and unable to supply a sufficient amount of blood to the rest of the body. This can be the end result of a congestive heart failure, damage to the heart muscle, heart attack, and very slow heart rhythm. If left untreated for a long period, a heart transplant may be the only treatment.
Hypovolemic shock: This is caused when the body severely loses too much blood and fluid, such as from traumatic bodily injury sustained in an auto accident or severe fall. The body depends on blood to deliver oxygen to the organs and if too much blood is lost, the heart and organs cannot function properly.
Neurogenic shock: This type of shock is caused by a severe spinal cord injury, in most cases as a result of a traumatic accident or injury. The end result is a dangerously low blood pressure and a slowed heart rate. Neurogenic shock is the most difficult to treat and if treatment is prolonged, it could result in irreversible damage to the spinal cord.
Early Symptoms of Shock
Symptoms of someone in shock include:
- Rapid, weak pulse
- Cold, clammy skin
- Shallow breathing
- Dizziness or fainting
- Weakness and nausea
- Profuse sweating
- Fast breathing
- Blue or white lips or fingernails
- Obvious confusion
Shock is a warning sign that the body is reacting to a very dangerous situation. When someone goes into shock after an accident, first aid should be administered immediately and an emergency call made. Some individuals do recover after treatment, but others may need long-term care.