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Understanding Shock

Posted on: October 11, 2017 by Edwards & Patterson Law


Shock is a specific medical term referring to a systemic condition caused by a lack of oxygen to the organs of the body. When faced with a life-threatening issue, the body naturally responds by shrinking (constricting) the blood vessels in the hands and feet (extremities). This conserves blood flow to the vital organs. At the same time, the body also releases adrenaline, which reduces blood pressure. The combination of these two automatic responses can be fatal of not dealt with properly. In addition, age, general health, personality, gender, the environment, and the locations of injuries can all have an effect on the effects and severity of shock on an individual.

Types of Shock

The different types of medical shock are:

  • Hypovolemic – as a result of insufficient blood volume. This is normally caused by internal or external bleeding, dehydration, or even vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Cardiogenic – as a result of the heart being unable to pump blood effectively. Poor heart function can be caused by heart disease, heart attack, valve disorders, or any number of other causes.
  • Neurogenic – as a result of injury to the spine that also damages nerves which control blood vessel dilation.
  • Septic – resulting from an infection that causes the blood vessels to dilate, which drops blood pressure.
  • Anaphylactic – resulting from a severe allergic reaction that causes blood vessels to dilate.
  • Obstructive – resulting from a stoppage of blood flow.
  • Endocrine – resulting from a severe hormonal disorder in an already critically ill person.

Symptoms of Shock

Causes of shock produce different symptoms or combinations of symptoms. However, the symptoms and signs of shock often include:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Pale, cold, clammy skin
  • Shallow, rapid breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Heartbeat irregularities or palpitations
  • Thirst or dry mouth
  • Low urine output
  • Dark urine
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Diagnosing Medical Shock

In cases of severe trauma, the cause of chock is obvious. In other cases, once any life-threatening dangers are eliminated, certain diagnostic tests are used to measure blood pressure and any resulting causes of abnormal readings. These can include:

  • Blood testing
  • X-rays
  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound
  • ECG
  • EEG


Regardless of the cause, treatment for shock involves restoring adequate blood circulation and managing any contributing complications. Basic treatment involves securing a clear airway and boosting blood circulation, even before trying to ascertain the cause of shock.

First-Aid for Shock

Shock is a life-threatening emergency and requires prompt, effective first-aid and medical treatment. The following suggestions are not a replacement for first-aid training, but are simply a guide to first-aid shock management in the event of an emergency.

  • If the victim is conscious, they should lie down. Keep them warm and comfortable as much as possible. Loosen tight clothing and raise the victim’s legs above the level of their torso to improve blood flow to the brain and vital organs. If a spinal injury is possible or suspected, do not raise the legs.
  • Manage any signs of external bleeding by pressing a clean cloth firmly against the wound. Do not remove the cloth even if it becomes soaked with blood. Simply apply another on top and continue to maintain pressure. If the wound is located on an extremity, raise the bleeding limb if possible.
  • Do not administer any food or drink, even water, to the victim.
  • Encourage the victim to lie still and provide reassurance that help is forthcoming. Stay with them until emergency workers arrive on the scene.

The experienced accident attorneys at Edwards & Patterson Law are here to help if you or a loved one are injured in an accident. We represent injured citizens of Tulsa, McAlester, and throughout eastern Oklahoma. Our professional attorneys work tirelessly with medical professionals, accident reconstruction teams, and other experts to determine exactly what caused your injuries and who was responsible. If you have questions or require legal help concerning an accident with injuries, call us at 877-403-8417 or contact us online as soon as possible. You pay absolutely no attorney fees unless you are awarded compensation by the court.

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