|The word shock can be used in a range ways, but when used in a first aid context it describes a physical condition that results from a loss of circulating body fluid. It should not be confused with emotional shock that might occur when a person has received bad news (although the external signs are very similar).
WHAT HAPPENS IN CASES OF SHOCK
A severe loss of body fluid will lead to a drop in blood pressure. Eventually the blood’s circulation will deteriorate and the remaining blood flow will be directed to the vital organs such as the brain. Blood will therefore be directed away from the outer area of the body, so the victim will appear pale and the skin will feel cold and clammy.
As blood flow slows, so does the amount of oxygen reaching the brain. The victim may appear to be confused, weak, and dizzy, and may eventually deteriorate into unconsciousness. To try to compensate for this lack of oxygen, the heart and breathing rates both speed up, gradually becoming weaker, and may eventually cease.
Potential causes of shock include: sever internal or external bleeding; burns; severe vomiting and diarrhea, especially in children and the elderly; problems with the heart.
• Mental rest
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
• Pale, cold, and clammy skin
• Fast, weak pulse
• Fast, shallow breathing
• Dizziness and weakness
• Breathing and heartbeat stopping
Shock kills, so it is vital that you can recognize these signs and symptoms. With internal bleeding in particular, shock can occur some time after an accident, so if a person with a history of injury starts to display these symptoms coupled with any of the symptoms of internal bleeding, advise her to seek urgent medical attention. Or take or send her to hospital.
Keep the victim warm but do not allow her to get overheated. If you are outside, try to get something underneath her if you can do easily. Wrap blankets and coats around her, paying particular attention to the head, through which much body heat is lost.
Maintain careful eye on the victim’s airway and be prepared to turn her into the recovery position if necessary, or even to resuscitate if breathing stops. Try to keep back bystanders and loosen tight clothing to allow maximum air to victim.
Keep the victim still and preferably sitting or lying down. If the victim is very giddy, lay her down with her legs raised to ensure that maximum blood and therefore maximum oxygen is sent to the brain.
Reassure the victim but keep your comments realistic. Do not say that everything is going to be fine when it is obvious that here is something seriously wrong. Let the victim know that everything that can be done is being done and that help has been called for. If she has other concerns, try to resolve these.
Treat the cause of the shock and aim to prevent further fluid loss.
Ensure that appropriate medical help is on the way.