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Definition Return to top
Shock is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body is not getting enough blood flow. This can damage multiple organs. Shock requires immediate medical treatment and can get worse very rapidly.
Considerations Return to top
Major classes of shock include:
Causes Return to top
Shock can be caused by any condition that reduces blood flow, including:
Shock is often associated with heavy external or internal bleeding from a serious injury. Spinal injuries can also cause shock.
Toxic shock syndrome is an example of a type of shock from an infection.
Symptoms Return to top
A person in shock has extremely low blood pressure. Depending on the specific cause and type of shock, symptoms will include one or more of the following:
First Aid Return to top
IF THE PERSON VOMITS OR DROOLS
DO NOT Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call 911 any time a person has symptoms of shock. Stay with the person and follow the first aid steps until medical help arrives.
Prevention Return to top
Learn ways to prevent heart disease, falls, injuries, dehydration, and other causes of shock. If you have a known allergy (for example, to insect bites or stings), carry an epinephrine pen. Your doctor will teach you how and when to use it.
Once someone is already in shock, the sooner shock is treated, the less damage there may be to the person's vital organs (like the kidney, liver, and brain). Early first aid and emergency medical help can save a life.
References Return to top
Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2002.
Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine.23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders; 2004.Update Date: 2/19/2008 Updated by: John E. Duldner, Jr., MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Director of Research, Department of Emergency Medicine, Akron General Medical Center and Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.