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What is shock?

This article provides an introduction to the basic biology of shock
Sign which says 'Don't panic'
© University of Glasgow, 2017

The commonest type of shock is called hypovolemic shock – this occurs due to loss of fluids, usually blood. The body begins to go into shock when more than 2 pints of blood has been lost. It is life-threatening and requires immediate management! Here are some of the features which suggest shock is present in order to help you to recognize it.

Immediate:

Quick heart rate (feel at wrist)

Pale skin and cold, sweaty hands

Worsening:

Quick and shallow breathing

Weakening of pulse at wrist

Blue/grey skin – check lips and fingertips

Weakness and drowsiness

Nausea and vomiting

Extreme thirst

Critical:

Change in behaviour e.g. aggressive

Gasping for a breath

Complete loss of consciousness

Death!

Now that you have a better understanding of what shock is, in the next step you will learn more about how to deal with it.

© University of Glasgow, 2017
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