Causes of shock – signs and symptoms

The term” shock” refers to psychological or a physiologic type of shock. Psychological shock is caused by a traumatic event and is also known as an acute stress disorder. Shock basically refers to a condition where the body is not able to get enough oxygen and nutrients for important organ and systems.

A shock may result from trauma, heatstroke, blood loss, an allergic reaction, severe burns or several other causes. If left untreated, shock can lead to permanent organ damage or even death.

Categories of shock, their signs, and symptoms

There are four main categories of shock, namely, hypovolemic, cardiogenic, distributive, and obstructive. Each one of the categories of shock has a different set of causes and varying signs and symptoms.

Hypovolemic Shock

This kind of shock is the most common and involves not having enough blood in your blood vessels to carry oxygen to your organs. This can be caused by severe blood loss as a result of an injury. A hypovolemic shock can be caused by excessive bleeding, also known as hemorrhagic shock, or from some other form of fluid loss and dehydration.

When the body experiences this kind of shock and tries to compensate for the loss of fluid, attempts to keep the blood pressure up, some signs show up. These signs may include a rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, dilated pupils, pale skin and sweating.

If a hypovolemic shock progresses and is left untreated, symptoms may get worse making the patient weak, confused and can fall unconscious.

If the shock is a result of external bleeding, there will be blood flowing out excessively. If the patient has internal bleeding into the gastric system, there will be bloody vomit or bloody diarrhea. If it’s the case of a heat stroke, the patient will experience dehydration.

Cardiogenic Shock

A cardiogenic shock is a condition where the heart has difficulties pumping blood in adequate amounts to the body. This shock introduces itself with the onset of a congestive heart failure.

Some of the symptoms of this shock include an irregular or weak heartbeat, difficulty in breathing; a cough producing frothy sputum, which can be white or pink in color and sweating in the feet and ankles. These symptoms are often accompanied by the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

Distributive Shock

This category of shock is very common amongst all shocks that occur. What happens in this shock is that the arteries become flaccid and fail to constrict properly which results in difficulties for the body to control the blood pressure which declines eventually without proper treatment.

The two most common causes of this type of shock are severe allergies, known as anaphylaxis, and severe infections, known as sepsis. Symptoms of distributive shock depend on what it is caused by.

Some of the symptoms of anaphylaxis include itching, swelling of the face, in particular, troubles in breathing, redness of the skin, rapid pulse and hives.

The symptoms of sepsis occurring under a distributive shock include fever, red skin, dry mouth, and poor skin elasticity, which mean that if it is pinched, it stays pinched for some time and then slowly returns to its prior state.

Obstructive Shock

This is the least common shock observed. It occurs when something is pressing on the blood vessels inside the body. It is caused mostly by a condition known as a tension pneumothorax. Symptoms include low blood pressure, rapid pulse, unequal breath sounds and difficulty in breathing.

All in all, a shock is an extreme state to be in. it is essential for the body to have enough blood pressure to supply oxygen and nutrients to the vital organs. Anything that disrupts this supply and makes it difficult to maintain the blood pressure leads to a medical emergency which should be dealt with immediately.







Michelle M

Conducting research in a laboratory can often feel isolated so Lisa prefers writing about scientific research in healthcare. She contributes stories about the latest research in all fields related to health. Email: lisa@askhealthnews.com

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