all things health

Shock: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Shock is a condition that occurs due to insufficient blood circulation in the body. Broadly, shock is categorized into two types, physiologic shock and psychologic shock, that is further divided based on the causes. Shock can damage various organs and get worse in no time, and lead to death. Thus, shock is a life-threatening medical condition that requires immediate treatment.

ShockWhat is a shock?

Shock is a term used to describe the limited supply of oxygen and nutrients to the body cells and organs due to an inadequate blood supply. This can affect the functioning of the organs and result in severe organ damage. If the blood supply to the heart, brain, and lungs is reduced, it may also lead to death. Certain conditions, such as heatstroke, an allergic reaction, severe infection, blood loss, and trauma may result in shock.

Types of Shock:

Shock is generally divided into physiologic shock or psychologic shock. Psychologic shock, or acute stress disorder, occurs due to a traumatic event that can have an intense emotional as well as a physical response.

Based on the causes, shock is classified into the following different types:

  • Cardiogenic shock occurs due to heart problems, such as valve disorder, heart attack or heart failure.
  • Hypovolemic shock occurs due to internal or external bleeding, diarrhea, chronic vomiting, dehydration or severe burns.
  • Anaphylactic shock occurs due to the severe allergic reaction.
  • Septic shock occurs due to E. coli or other infection.
  • Neurogenic shock occurs due to a spinal injury.
  • Obstructive shock occurs due to blocked blood flow.
  • Endocrine shock occurs due to a long persisting endocrine disorder.

Causes of Shock:

Conditions that reduce blood flow may lead to shock. Some of the conditions are mention below:

  • Excessive blood loss
  • Heart failure or heart attack
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Burns
  • Dehydration
  • Blood infection
  • Poisoning

Sign and Symptoms of Shock:

The main symptom of shock is immensely reduced blood pressure. The other associated signs and symptoms differ according to the cause and type of shock that may include the following.

  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety/ restlessness
  • Bluish fingernails and lips
  • Pale, clammy and cool skin
  • Dizziness
  • Enlarged pupils
  • low or no urine output
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Unconscious

Risk factors:

A person having any condition that may lead to decreased blood pressure is at high risk of developing shock.


Shock is a condition, which needs immediate treatment. Therefore, as soon as the patient is admitted to the hospital, after observing the external symptoms, the doctor initiates the treatment.

Once the patient is in a stable condition, the underlying cause of shock is detected by performing the following tests.

  • Blood tests: A sample of blood is examined to evaluate blood infection, significant blood loss, or an overdose of medication or drug.
  • Imaging tests: Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, X-ray, CT, and MRI scan are performed to detect internal damage like organ rupture, tear of muscle or tendon, any abnormal growth or bone fracture.

Based on the type of shock, the doctor may perform some other diagnostic tests to evaluate the condition better.


Shock is treated based on the underlying cause. The following are some of the treatment options available for shock:

Medications: Certain medications are prescribed to treat different types of shocks, such as:

  • Medications to narrow the blood vessels in case of cardiogenic shock
  • Antibiotics to cure the infection in case of septic shock
  • Antihistamines and Adrenaline for anaphylactic shock
  • Corticosteroids to treat neurogenic and anaphylactic shock
  • Clot-dissolving medication in case of obstructive shock
  • Thyroid medications to treat endocrine shock

Intravenous fluids are given to restore the blood volume and treat shock.

Electric shock helps to correct arrhythmias and to treat cardiogenic shock.

Blood transfusion may be needed to restore the blood volume in severe cases of cardiogenic shock.

Heart surgery may be required for patients with heart defects in case of cardiogenic shocks.

First Aid for Shock:

Proper first aid and on time treatment may save a person’s life. If you find a person in shock, call for medical help, and without delay start giving the first aid. The first aid steps include:

  • Check if the person is breathing. In case there are no signs of breathing or a heartbeat, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • If the person is breathing, lay him or her in a resting position and elevate the legs to the level of head and torso without causing any pain or injury. Avoid raising the legs in case of any spine or leg injury.
  • Loosen the clothes and cover the person with extra blankets to keep the person warm.
  • For visible injuries, like head, back or neck injury, manage the wounds by applying a clean cloth and pressing it firmly on the wound to prevent blood loss.
  • Don’t allow the person to eat or drink anything as it may cause choking.
  • If the person starts vomiting, turn the person to the side to prevent choking. Do not turn the person in case of any spinal injury.
  • If the person has an allergic reaction and epinephrine autoinjector is present, administer it according to the instructions.

Prevention of Shock:

Shock can be prevented by reducing the incidence of the causes, such as heart failure, injuries, dehydration, etc. The following measures may help to prevent the causes:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly to avoid heart diseases.
  • Prevent injuries: Wear protective gears while driving, playing sports, or working with dangerous equipment to prevent injuries.
  • Avoid triggers: Stay away from the allergens if you are diagnosed with a specific allergy, and prevent severe allergic reactions.
  • Drink plenty of water: Keep yourself hydrated to prevent dehydration.


Shock . Medline Plus. Accessed on December 6. Accessed December 6, 2018.
Shock : First aid . Mayoclinic. Accessed December 6, 2018.
Shock. better health. Accessed on December 6. Accessed December 6, 2018.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!