Shock is a condition of severe depression of the vital functions. It is associated with changes in the circulatory system, varying from temporary weakness to complete failure. Its severity varies with the nature and extent of the injury and it is a common cause of death following severe injuries.

Shock may develop at once or its onset may be delayed. Loss of whole blood or plasma from the circulation is the most important cause of shock. The severity of shock depends on the amount and rapidity of bleeding.
A badly shocked victim will look pale, bluish, cold and sweaty and will also be mentally slow.
General Signs and Symptoms of Shock.
It may vary from a transient attack of faintness to a state of collapse. Common signs and symptoms are:

  • Gastritis
  • Giddiness and faintness
  • Coldness
  • Nausea
  • Pallor
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness
  • A slow pulse at first which tends to become more feeble and rapid (thready pulse)

Immediate First Aid for Shock

  1. Reassure the casualty.
  2. Always tend to the major injuries first.
  3. Minimize shock by laying the patient down at site of accident, keeping his head low and legs raised.
  4. Loosen tight clothing such as belt and collars; keep the patient lightly covered.
  5. Reduce movement to a minimum.
  6. Stop bleeding and dress wounds with clean, dry dressings. If injuries allow, put the patient in recovery position.
  7. If the patient is conscious and thirsty, soak a piece of cloth, such as a handkerchief and let him suck it.
  8. Do not give anything by mouth (the casualty may require an anaesthetic).
  9. Stimulants such as alcohol and cigarettes should be totally avoided.
  10. Keep a careful watch on the patient to make sure he is breathing properly, that he does not start, or resume bleeding and does not vomit.
  11. Do not heat the patient with hot water bottles or electric blankets, these will draw blood away from vital organs where it is needed.
  12. Even if the patient seems to be unconscious, do not talk or whisper to bystanders. He may well hear you and understand what is being said, which may enhance his anxiety.
  13. Stay with the patient until medical aid arrives.