CPR First Aid

Why and How People Feel Medical Shock?

When someone is injured, it’s often the shock that kills them, not the injury itself. This condition can occur when a person experiences physical or emotional trauma.

In truth, the body’s natural response to trauma is to go into this condition in order to protect vital organs. At the same time though, it is also one of the most frightening things a person can experience. If left untreated, it can lead to serious symptoms and even fatal consequences.

Throughout this article, we’ll discuss why and how people feel medical shock.

Why do People feel Medical Shock?

As we mentioned, this is the body’s response to physical or emotional trauma. It’s a survival mechanism that occurs when the body is overwhelmed and trying to protect itself.

When someone goes into and experiences this condition, their blood pressure drops and their heart rate increases. This is because the body is trying to redirect blood away from the extremities and towards the vital organs.

At the same time, the body also releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones help to further constrict blood vessels and increase heart rate. However, they also introduce an element of danger.

All of these changes are meant to help the body conserve energy so that it can heal itself.

Body reacts to trauma—physical or emotional. Survival mode: overwhelmed, protecting. In it, BP drops, heart rate rises.

Different Types

Let’s learn more about each different type of shock.


The hypovolemic type occurs when there is a loss of blood or fluid from the body. When this happens, the lack of blood also means that not enough oxygen is getting to the various vital organs of the body.

This can happen due to something like severe bleeding or dehydration. This is why basic wound care is important when trying to treat this type.


The cardiogenic type occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. This can be caused by heart problems, heart attacks, damage to the heart, or cardiomyopathy.

The damage sustained to the heart affects the amount of blood flowing throughout the body. Just like the hypovolemic type above, it introduces problems to the vital organs of the body.  


Blood vessels are toned in such a way as to allow the delivery of blood and nutrients throughout the body. If they are damaged and become too open, then these nutrients fail to distribute these necessary things. This is the distributive variety and its symptoms include low blood pressure and even fainting.

There are several subtypes of the distributive variety as well.


Septic shock is a subtype of the distributive type. It occurs when an infection spreads throughout the body and leads to widespread inflammation. When bacteria enter the blood, it can cause sepsis or blood poisoning. With enough of it, it can damage the vital organs of the body.


The neurogenic subtype occurs when the nervous system is damaged. This can be caused by spinal cord injury, stroke, or head trauma.


Perhaps the most common of these conditions is anaphylaxis or an allergic reaction. When a person comes in contact with food, medications, or creatures they are allergic to, it triggers a response in the immune system that could very well be fatal.


The last type is called obstructive and it occurs when something is blocking the flow of blood throughout the body. This can be a clot, tumour, or any other kind of physical obstruction that gets in the way. Other symptoms could include things like collapsed lungs or blood collecting in certain areas within the chest wall or lungs.


The symptoms can vary depending on the type a person is experiencing. However, there are some general symptoms that are common to all types of shock.

These include:

  • Pale, cool, and clammy skin
  • Sweating
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Anxiety or fear

Symptoms vary based on type. Yet, general symptoms occur in all shock types.

What Happens If It Is Left Untreated?

If left untreated, it can lead to serious consequences. This is because the body’s vital organs are not getting the blood and oxygen they need to function properly.

This can lead to organ failure, low blood pressure, arrhythmias, and even death.

How to Diagnose It in a Person?

Other than these symptoms, medical personnel look at several things to better indicate if a person is feeling this condition. For starters, they look at whether the blood pressure of a person is low. Similarly, they also look for low pulses and high heart rates.


The treatment will vary depending on the type a person is experiencing. However, there are some general treatments that can be used for all types.

Treatment varies by type experienced. General treatments can be used universally.

Lay The Person Down

The first thing that one should do is lay the afflicted person down. Once they are down, ensure that their legs are elevated. Doing this will largely help with resupplying vital organs with the blood they need. 

One should also avoid giving them anything to eat or drink.

Call For Help

If you suspect that someone is in medical shock, it’s important to seek medical help immediately. You should call 911 or your local emergency number. If you know what happened, it is best to relay that information to the medical care providers you are speaking to. This will allow them to prepare treatments more quickly.

Cover Them With A Blanket

The next thing you’ll want to do is cover the person with a blanket. This helps to keep their body temperature regulated.

One thing to remember is that when a person feels fear or pain, it can serve to worsen a person’s condition. This is because these things take more oxygen away from a person’s body. That is why it is important to make the victim feel as comfortable and calm as possible.

Do Not Move The Person Unless Absolutely Necessary

If the person is experiencing this condition due to an injury, it’s important not to move them unless absolutely necessary. Moving them could further worsen their condition.

However, if they are in danger and need to be moved, it’s important to do so carefully. One person should support the head and neck while another person supports the trunk of the body. The limbs should be supported last.

Administer CPR If Needed

If the person is not breathing, it’s important to administer CPR immediately. This will help to keep their blood circulating and oxygenated.

Loosen Clothing

Jumping off that same note of improving blood circulation and oxygen, another thing that you can do is to loosen tight clothing. This is done especially if it is around a person’s neck, chest, and waist.

Ensure that they are breathing as comfortably as possible.


Medical shock is a serious medical condition that can have life-threatening consequences if it is left untreated. It’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms so that you can seek medical help immediately. There are also some things that you can do to help a person until medical help arrives.

If you suspect that someone is experiencing this condition, don’t hesitate to call for medical assistance and follow the above steps.

Similarly, learning the right first aid practices can help you keep a person calm and stable enough until help arrives.

Learn more about first aid through CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course today.

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