Shock occurs when the heart and blood vessels fail to keep a sufficient amount of oxygen-rich blood pumping through the vital organs, which is potentially life-threatening. To prevent or control shock, it is important to recognize the symptoms and treat the injured person before shock can entirely develop. This is sometimes difficult because symptoms might be disguised by their injury or illness and may not manifest right away. Most times shock will show itself a few hours later.
- Anxiety and restlessness.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Extreme thirst.
- Lackluster eyes with dilated pupils.
- Irregular, shallow and rapid breathing.
- Pale, cold and clammy skin.
- Irregular pulse — too fast, too slow or undetectable.
Treatment and prevention
As always, remain calm while administering first aid. Even if shock hasn't manifested yet, first aid can prevent it. If it's developed, you can stop it before it becomes fatal.
- Maintain open airway: Tilt the head, lift the chin or gently pull the jaw forward.
- Control bleeding.
- Position the injured person: Place them on their back and elevate their legs six to 12 inches. Try to get their head lower than their feet. However, if they're vomiting or bleeding from or around their mouth, lay them on their side or turn their head to the side.
- Splint: If you suspect the person has broken or dislocated a bone, leave them in the position you found them in. Do not straighten them out because you may injure them further. Apply a splint to relieve pain and prevent tissue damage as well as shock.
- Talk with them to calm them down with words of encouragement and reassurance. Try to prevent them from seeing their injuries and let them know that professional medical care is on its way.
- Keep them comfortable and maintain normal body temperature. If possible, remove any wet clothing and put blankets underneath them.
- Don't let them eat or drink because it may cause vomiting and medical complications if they require emergency surgery.
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