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First Aid for Shock

A shock takes place when the blood vessels and the heart are unable to pump oxygenated blood to all the vital organs in the body. Many illnesses and injuries include shock as one of their symptoms, regardless of the fact that it is common condition; do not take it lightly as it may lead to an emergency situation. Make sure you recognize the symptoms of shock before you begin treatment. Most of the time, only a few of the symptoms will appear.


  • Pale, clammy, cold skin
    first aid for shock

    If possible and if the injuries allow for it, place the victim in position shown.

  • Dilated pupils and dull eyes
  • Rapid, weak or absent pulse
  • Mood changes such as anxiety and restlessness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Low blood pressure or loss of blood pressure

Types of shock

  • Hypovolemic shock. Occurs due to reduction of blood or fluids in the body as a result of heavy bleeding, external or internal injuries. Burns, fluid loss due to diarrhoea  severe and persistent vomiting and dehydration.
  • Neurogenic shock. The abnormal enlargement of the blood vessels causes the pooling in of blood and reduction of blood pressure. Fainting is a common example as it occurs due to blood pooling in while the person stands—falling allows the blood to rush back to the head and hence, problem solved.
  • Anaphylactic shock. This is caused by a trigger that brings rise to a severe allergic reaction. Allergens include certain foods, insect bites and bee stings.
  • Psychogenic shock. This is the most common form of shock that occurs due to certain emotions such as feeling of immense joy, fear, anxiety, grief or anger. Treatment involves emotional consolation or counselling.


If a person suffers from a severe form of shock, follow these steps:

  1. Call 911 immediately.
  2. Allow the victim to lie down with his back against the ground. Cover the casualty with a blanket and elevate the feet above head level—unless they are fractured.
  3. If there is any discharge from the ears, nose or mouth, tilt the casualty’s head so that he does not choke on the fluids. If you are not very sure about the injuries, allow the person to continue remaining flat on the ground—especially if you suspect his neck, back or head is injured—do not move him at all.
  4. Loosen any tight objects such as belts, jewelry, collars etc. to prevent any constriction around the neck, waist and chest regions.
  5. Make sure the casualty is comfortable and warm. Remove any wet clothing and allow the casualty to lie down on warm blankets as well, if possible. It is recommended that you do not resort to artificial sources of heat. Do not apply heat to large wounds that are bleeding heavily as it can prevent clotting.
  6. Look for other injuries such as cuts and wounds and administer basic first aid to treat them. If you are trained to do so, splint the broken limbs, if present.
  7. If the casualty is feeling thirsty, simply moisten the lips as you should NOT give him anything to eat or drink.
  8. Reassure the casualty that help is on its way and make sure you and the casualty remain calm.

Where to Learn More

To learn more about recognizing and treat shock enrol in St Mark James first aid training with a provider near you. Visit our location page for more information about finding the right provider.

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