Medical Shock

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Shock facts

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  • Shock is a life-threatening medical condition and is a medical emergency. If shock is suspected call 911 or get to an emergency department immediately.
  • The main symptom of shock is low blood pressure. Other symptoms include rapid, shallow breathing; cold, clammy skin; rapid, weak pulse; dizziness, fainting, or weakness.
  • There are several types of shock: septic shock caused by bacteria, anaphylactic shock caused by hypersensitivity or allergic reaction, cardiogenic shock from heart damage, hypovolemic shock from blood or fluid loss, and neurogenic shock from spinal cord trauma.
  • Treatment for shock depends on the cause. Tests will determine the cause and severity. Usually IV fluids are administered in addition to medications that raise blood pressure.
    • Septic shock is treated with antibiotics and fluids.
    • Anaphylactic shock is treated with diphenhydramine (Benadryl), epinephrine (an "Epi-pen"), and steroid medications (solu-medrol).
    • Cardiogenic shock is treated by identifying and treating the underlying cause.
    • Hypovolemic shock is treated with fluids (saline) in minor cases, and blood transfusions in severe cases.
    • Neurogenic shock is the most difficult to treat as spinal cord damage is often irreversible. Immobilization, anti-inflammatories such as steroids and surgery are the main treatments.
  • Shock prevention includes learning ways to prevent heart disease, injuries, dehydration and other causes of shock.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/8/2013

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