When most people hear the word “shock”, one of the first images that comes to mind is that of someone experiencing psychological shock after a traumatic experience. While this condition is serious and warrants medical attention, there are other equally dangerous types of shock that affect the human body. The most pressing danger of shock is the interference of blood flow to the organs and soft tissue. If ignored, this obstruction of blood flow can be fatal.
The 5 Types of Shock and Their Causes
1. Anaphylactic Shock
Anaphylactic Shock refers to a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur as a result of eating particular foods, taking certain medications, or an insect bite. Symptoms occur within 15 minutes of exposure, so it’s crucial to be familiar with them.
Symptoms of Anaphylactic Shock
- Itchy skin
- Breaking out in hives
- Labored breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
The best way to prevent Anaphylactic Shock is to know and avoid its triggers. The next best thing is to carry antihistamines or Epinephrine.
2. Hypovolemic Shock
Hypovolemic Shock is what happens to the body when a person loses too much blood. As a result, the heart is unable to pump enough blood to reach the organs, which can lead to organ failure. It’s often the consequence of severe cuts, traumatic injuries, internal bleeding, or endometriosis.
Symptoms of Hypovolemic Shock
- Chest pain
- Pale skin
- Shallow breathing
- Blue lips
- Blue fingernails
- Blood in urine
- Blood in the stool
- Abdominal swelling
- Vomiting blood
Left untreated, the patient may suffer from brain damage or death. Call for medical emergency assistance immediately. Make sure the patient is lying down, with their feet elevated. Do not elevate their head. Use a tourniquet to prevent additional blood loss.
Once the patient receives medical attention, they will need a blood transfusion and medication to assist the heart in pumping blood to all organs.
3. Septic Shock
When a person has an infection, the immune system sends it’s special cells into the blood to fight it. The process causes inflammation and can lower blood pressure. If the blood pressure drops too low, the organs may not receive enough oxygen and blood flow, causing the patient to go into septic shock. This is potentially life-threatening.
Pregnant women, babies, senior citizens, and people with a compromised immune system are more likely to experience Septic Shock as a result of infection.
Symptoms of Septic Shock
- Slurred speech
- Shortness of breath
- Severe muscular pain
- Loss of consciousness
Septic Shock should be treated immediately. Treatment options can include intravenous fluids, oxygen therapy, antibiotics, or in a severe situation, surgery to remove the source of infection.
4. Neurogenic Shock
Neurogenic Shock occurs when there’s an uneven blood distribution throughout the body. It’s often the result of a severe injury to the central nervous system, a spinal injury, or damage to the brain. Left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to organs or even death.
Some of the most common causes for Neurogenic Shock include car accidents, gunshot wounds, sports injuries, or improper administration of anesthesia to the spinal cord.
Symptoms of Neurogenic Shock
Treatment includes immobilizing the patient to prevent further injury, intravenous fluids, and medication to increase blood pressure.
5. Cardiogenic Shock
Cardiogenic Shock occurs when the heart is damaged and can’t pump blood adequately. It’s often the result of a heart attack. This can lead to organ failure. Although rare, it’s very difficult to survive Cardiogenic Shock.
Symptoms of Cardiogenic Shock
Because it is generally the consequence of a heart attack, it’s important to know the symptoms:
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