Shock and loss of consciousness

Medical shock can be caused by factors such as excessive bleeding, a severe infection, a severe allergic reaction, or injuries sustained in a traffic accident. Anyone in medical shock must receive emergency medical care as soon as possible.

What is medical shock?

The condition can be life-threatening. When you go into medical shock, your blood pressure and blood flow have dropped so much that your blood is no longer circulated as usual. This means that your body is not getting enough oxygen and nutrients, so it no longer works the way it normally does.

Symptoms of medical shock

  • Rapid and weak pulse
  • Greyish pale and cold, clammy skin (if the shock is due to a severe infection, your skin will be red and warm at first and you will usually have a high fever)
  • Blue nails and lips
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Thirst

In medical shock, blood pressure drops and urine production decreases or stops altogether. You also become lethargic and may be perceived as confused by those around you.

You may lose consciousness depending on how much your body has been affected.

Alarm quickly and assess the situation

It is important to act quickly and call 112 if you think someone has gone into shock or is at risk of going into shock. The person needs immediate emergency hospital care.

You should also assess the situation quickly:

  • Is the person breathing?
    Listen at the mouth and nose, and watch the chest to see whether it rises. At the same time, use your hand to feel for warm puffs of air.
  • Is the person conscious?
    Talk to the person or shake them gently to try to get their attention.
  • Does the person have a pulse?
  • Is the person bleeding?