Hypovolaemic shock is a medical emergency that can result in death if not treated quickly. It occurs when you lose too much blood, which can be caused by injuries, childbirth, or severe diarrhoea. Without treatment, hypovolaemic shock can lead to cardiac arrest and death. However, with early recognition and treatment, the chances of survival are greatly improved. This article will teach you how to recognise the symptoms of hypovolaemic shock and how to provide appropriate first aid until medical help arrives.
What is a Hypovolaemic Shock?
There are two main types of shock: hypovolaemic and hemorrhagic. Hypovolemic shock is caused by a loss of blood or fluid, while hemorrhagic shock is caused by bleeding. Both types of shock can be life-threatening.
A significant loss of blood or fluid from the body may end up in hypovolaemic shock, a condition that can be fatal. This loss can occur due to internal bleeding, such as from a ruptured aneurysm, or external bleeding, such as from a severe injury. When your blood or fluid volume decreases, it causes a drop in blood pressure and a decrease in the amount of oxygen that your organs and tissues receive. This can ultimately lead to organ damage and even death.
How do we respond to an emergency situation like this? Are you qualified to provide first aid? If you’d like to be first aid certified at Level 1/174 Gilles St, Adelaide 5000, contact CPR First Aid (RTO 21903) and let us walk you through your certification from start to finish.
Causes of Hypovolaemic Shock
There are three primary causes of this condition:
This can occur due to trauma, surgery, or a ruptured aneurysm.
This can happen due to burns, vomiting, or diarrhoea.
This can happen due to severe dehydration or third-spacing of fluids (when fluids shift from the circulating blood into the interstitial space).
Hypovolaemic shock can also be caused by a combination of these factors. For example, blood loss from trauma combined with fluid loss from vomiting or diarrhoea.
Signs and Symptoms
There are several factors that can affect how hypovolaemic shock manifests, including:
- The speed at which you lost blood or fluids
- How much has the amount of your blood decreased
- Your overall health and previous medical treatment
- The reason for the injury or the shock’s origin
The most obvious symptom of hypovolaemic shock in an accident is significant bleeding. However, if the bleeding is internal, you won’t be able to see it. The following are common signs and symptoms of hypovolaemic shock:
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Cool, clammy skin
- Shallow Rapid Breathing
- Having little or no urination
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it is important to seek medical help immediately.
Stages of Hypovolemic Shock
Based on the amount of blood volume loss, hypovolaemic shock has four stages.
Stage 1: Mild hypovolemia
Blood loss of up to 15% of the body’s total blood volume. The individual may experience tachycardia (increased heart rate), tachypnea (increased breathing rate), and mild hypotension (low blood pressure).
Stage 2: Moderate hypovolemia
Blood loss of 15-30% of the body’s total blood volume. The individual may experience tachycardia, tachypnea, hypotension, and confusion.
Stage 3: Severe hypovolemia
Blood loss of 30-40% of the body’s total blood volume. The individual may experience tachycardia, tachypnea, hypotension, mental status changes (such as confusion or agitation), and oliguria (decreased urine output).
Stage 4: Critical hypovolemia
Blood loss of more than 40% of the body’s total blood volume. The individual may experience tachycardia, tachypnea, hypotension, mental status changes, oliguria, and anuria (absent urine output). This is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.
If you suspect that someone is experiencing hypovolaemic shock, it is important to call triple zero (000) or rush the patient to the nearest emergency room. Treatment will vary depending on the stage of shock but may include IV fluids, blood transfusions, and medications.
Hypovolaemic Shock Complications
Numerous severe complications, such as the following, can result from hypovolaemic shock:
This can occur when the blood flow to the organs is inadequate and the organs are not able to receive the oxygen and nutrients they need. When this happens, the organs can become damaged and may even fail.
Organ damage is a serious complication of hypovolaemic shock because it can often be irreversible. This means that once the organ damage has occurred, it cannot be reversed and the person will likely need to rely on medical intervention for the rest of their life. Organ damage can also lead to other complications, such as infection, which can further complicate the person’s condition.
Another complication of hypovolaemic shock is heart failure. This occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s requirements. Heart failure can lead to organ damage and death.
Hypovolaemic shock can result in kidney failure because the kidneys need enough blood to function properly. When blood volume decreases, the kidneys are not able to filter waste products efficiently and become damaged. Kidney failure can lead to a build-up of toxins in the blood and can be fatal if left untreated.
Is There Treatment for Hypovolaemic Shock?
The goal of treatment is to replenish the fluid levels in the body and to stabilise the patient’s blood pressure and heart rate. Fluids are usually given through an IV drip. In severe cases, blood transfusions may also be necessary.
If the cause of the hypovolaemic shock is known, treatment will also focus on addressing the underlying cause. For example, if the hypovolaemic shock is caused by blood loss due to trauma, surgery may be necessary to stop the bleeding. If the cause is due to dehydration from vomiting or diarrhoea, rehydration through fluids and electrolytes will be necessary. Treatment for hypovolaemic shock is typically provided in a hospital setting.
How to Prevent Hypovolaemic Shock?
Hypovolaemic shock can be caused by a number of different factors, ranging from blood loss to dehydration. In order to prevent this potentially life-threatening condition, it is important to take steps to avoid these triggers.
One of the most effective ways to prevent hypovolaemic shock is to ensure that you are adequately hydrated. This can be done by drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, throughout the day. It is also important to avoid becoming dehydrated in the first place by avoiding diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol.
Take precautions to avoid excessive blood loss if you are at risk of bleeding, such as if you have surgery coming up. This may include taking medications to prevent clotting or donating blood in advance of the procedure.
If you have any medical conditions that put you at risk for hypovolaemic shock, work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan. This may involve taking medication to stabilise your condition or making lifestyle changes to reduce your risk.
First Aid for Hypovolaemic Shock
First aid for hypovolaemic shock focuses on restoring blood volume and fluid balance. This may involve giving fluids intravenously, through a drip, or via an intramuscular injection. The emergency responders may also need to give blood transfusions or other treatments depending on the severity of the shock.
CPR and first aid courses in Adelaide CBD are available at CPR First Aid, with almost two decades of delivering quality, compliant, and accredited training for its participants. For more information, feel free to reach out to us.