While this is occurring, the other cells do not receive
enough blood and, therefore, do not receive enough
oxygen or food. The blood vessels, like the rest of the
body, suffer from this lack and eventually lose their
ability to constrict. When this happens, the vital organs
and the brain do not receive enough blood, and the
condition of shock becomes worse and worse. If this
continues, the present damage becomes so extensive
that recovery is impossible. In less severe cases, prompt
first-aid treatment for shock may mean the difference
between life and death. In mild cases of shock, recovery
usually occurs naturally and rather quickly.
Basically, then, SHOCK is a condition in which the
circulation of the blood is seriously disturbed. As we will
see later, the measures used to combat shock are aimed
at helping the body recover from this disturbance of the
CAUSES OF SHOCK
Figure 10-41.--Symptoms of shock.
Serious shock occurs as a result of severe injury to
any part of the body.
Crush injuries, fractures, burns, poisoning, and
There are many different causes and types of shock.
prolonged bleeding are very likely to cause serious
It is not within the scope of this text to identify all of
them here. You should remember, however, that shock
is certain to accompany or follow a serious injury and is
An interruption of breathing, from whatever
often the most serious consequence of the injury.
cause, is usually followed by severe shock.
Blast and concussion injuries, caused by pressure
HOW TO RECOGNIZE SHOCK
waves resulting from the detonation of high explosives
in the air or underwater, may severely damage the
A person who is going into shock may show quite a
internal organs of the body and cause extensive shock
few signs or symptoms. Some of these are indicated in
(as a matter of fact, signs of shock are sometimes the
only outward indication of a blast or concussion injury).
figure 10-41 and are discussed below. Remember,
however, that the signs of shock do not always appear
As noted above, any damage to the body is
at the onset of the injury; in fact, in many very serious
accompanied by or followed by some degree of shock.
cases, the signs may not appear until hours later.
There are a number of factors that affect the
The symptoms shown by a person suffering from
seriousness of shock. Age, for example, is often a
determining factor. Very young children and very old
shock are, directly or indirectly, due to the fact that the
people do not usually have as much resistance to shock
circulation of the blood is disturbed.
as young or middle-aged adults. Pain can produce shock
The pulse is weak and rapid.
or increase its severity. People who have been starved,
deprived of water, or exposed to the extremes of cold or
Breathing is likely to be shallow, rapid, and
heat can go into shock very easily. Excessive fatigue can
irregular, because poor circulation of the blood affects
increase the severity of shock. In general, people who
the breathing center in the brain.
have any chronic illness are more likely to go into shock
than healthy individuals. In addition to these factors,
The face, arms, and legs feel cold to the touch.
there are some unexplained differences between
The temperature near the surface of the body is lowered
individuals in regard to their resistance to shock-an
because of the poor blood flow.
injury that might cause mild shock in one person could
Sweating is likely to be very noticeable.
cause serious, perhaps fatal, shock in another.