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Emergency Medicine: Identifying and Dealing With Shock

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When shock occurs the body’s organs and tissues no longer receive the blood they need to function correctly.

This results in an imbalance of oxygen supply and demand.

The result is a buildup of waste products that can have detrimental effects on the organs.

When this type of shock occurs it is not something to ever be taken lightly. It can result in death or a coma if the person is not rushed to the hospital.

Many times, people hear about someone going  through a traumatic experience, leaving them feeling shocked. This is a bit different and is termed psychological shock. It causes the mind to go through obstacles and often requires the help of a psychologist.

Shock may be caused by any of the following:

  • Loss of blood through internal or external bleeding
  • Loss of plasma (the liquid part of the blood) through burns
  • Loss of body fluids from vomiting, dysentery, or dehydration
  • Allergic reactions
  • Infections
  • Heart trouble, heart attack, or stroke
  • Poisoning by chemicals, gases, alcohol, or drugs
  • Snake and animal bites
  • Respiratory problems
  • Lack of oxygen
  • Chest wounds
  • Broken ribs
  • Obstructions in the throat that cause the victim to choke
  • Injuries to the respiratory system
  • Damage to the spine that paralyzes muscles
  • Water-related accidents
  • Injuries of all types, both severe and minor
  • Occasionally, fear, bad news, or the sight of blood.

The immediate treatment of shock can mean the difference between life and death, or the difference between major organ damage or complete recovery. When recovering from shock, it will be important that you make major changes in your living habits so that your body has a strong chance at fighting off the symptoms.

Some of the signs of shock include: very low blood pressure, blue lips/fingernails, weakness, anxiety, nauseous, rapid/shallow breathing, chest pain, loss of consciousness, fast but weak pulse, moist/clammy skin, profuse sweating, dizziness or light-headedness.

Signs of Shock:

  • One common form of minor shock is fainting or faintness.
  • The skin may be pale or bluish and cold to the touch. If the victim has dark skin, look at the color of the inside of the mouth or of the skin under the eyelids or nails.
  • The skin may be moist and clammy.
  • The pupils of the eyes may be dilated. The eyes may be dull and lackluster, a sign of poor circulation.
  • The victim is weak.
  • Breathing may be shallow, panting, labored, or irregular.
  • The pulse is usually fast (over 100 beats a minute).
  • There may be nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and thirst. The victim may collapse.

As Shock Grows Worse, Look for These Signs:

  • The victim may become apathetic and not respond. This is because he is not getting enough oxygen.
  • The eyes may become sunken. The victim may have a vacant expression.
  • The victim’s skin may become spotty because of very low blood pressure and congested or collapsed blood vessels.

It can be really hard to diagnose shock in babies or children. This is because their bodies are still very resilient and able to preserve their blood pressure. This is also dangerous because the brain and heart are protected at the expense of other organs.

In the case of physiological shock medical treatment is always necessary right away. The treatment can be performed by either a medical doctor or naturopath who can immediately stabilize the patient.

What to do if someone is in shock:

  1. As with all emergency treatment, make sure you remain safe. Follow universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if you have it. Follow universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if you have it. You cannot be helpful to a victim if you allow yourself to be injured in the process.
  2. Call for an ambulance. Remember that 911 works differently on a wireless phone than it does from the home or office.
  3. Make sure the victim is breathing. If not, begin rescue breathing.
  4. Before any other treatments for shock are done, bleeding must be stopped.
  5. If you do not suspect a neck injury, lay the victim on his or her back (supine) and elevate the legs. If you suspect a neck injury, do not move the victim. Car and other vehicle accidents often lead to neck injuries. Neck injuries are also common in falls, especially falls from a height taller than the victim.
  6. Keep the victim warm.
  7. Continue to check on the victim. If the victim stops breathing, begin rescue breathing. If the victim vomits, roll the victim to one side and sweep the vomit from his or her mouth with your fingers.

Certain herbs can be used to keep a patient suffering with physiological shock stable. These include Indian gooseberry, Ginseng, Echinacea, Tamarisk, Astragalus and Sweet basil.

Psychological shock is treated a bit differently with herbal medicines. Chamomilla, Lavender, Passiflora Incarnata and Scullcap are all good at stabilizing and keeping the mind at peace. Homeopathic remedies that can be used include Aconite, Arnica and Belladonna.

As I stated earlier, psychological shock is not life-threatening as is physiological shock, but if you feel you need the help of a doctor or psychologist then you should definitely seek it as psychological shock can lead to major mental and emotional issues.

Questions about the herbal or homeopathic medicines you choose to take can be directed toward a homeopath. They are relatively easy to find especially in larger cities.

References:

http://firstaid.about.com/od/bleedingcontrol/ht/shock.htm
http://lds.org/hf/library/1,16866,4335-1,00.html?LibraryURL=/lds/hf/display




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