First aid for shock

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Good to know:

  • Shock is when blood pressure drops suddenly and drastically, and may lead to tissue damage and death.
  • Any condition that reduces blood flow to the cells, e.g. severe bleeding, dehydration or heart failure, can cause shock.
  • Early symptoms of shock may include confusion, restlessness and anxiety.
  • Call an ambulance immediately if you suspect someone is going into shock.
  • Elevate the person’s legs if they have no spinal injury, keep them warm and calm, and don’t give them anything to eat or drink.


Symptoms of shock
In the early stages of shock, symptoms may not be obvious, and may differ depending on the cause and type of shock.
As the condition progresses, symptoms become more noticeable. Sometimes the only early signs are confusion, restlessness
or anxiety. Sometimes, the person may appear lethargic and sleepy. The skin may be cold, sweaty and pale. 

When shock results from blood vessel dilation, the skin may be warm and flushed at first. Cold, clammy skin and lethargy only
occur later on. Breathing is usually shallow, and the pulse is weak and rapid. Urine flow is reduced. The person feels dizzy
or faint, and will eventually become unconscious.


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