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Shock Pronunciation: Shock (shŏk)

Definition: In medical terms, shock is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical treatment. It occurs when there is inadequate blood flow to the body’s organs and tissues, which can lead to damage or failure. There are several types of shock, including hypovolemic shock, septic shock, and anaphylactic shock.

What is Shock?


Shock is a critical condition brought on by the sudden drop in blood flow through the body. It is often associated with a severe injury or illness and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

Key Facts about Shock:

  • Shock can result from various conditions such as severe injury, blood loss, allergic reactions, severe infections, and more.
  • Common symptoms of shock include cold and sweaty skin, irregular heart rate, rapid breathing, weakness or fatigue, dilated pupils, and changes in mental status.
  • Immediate medical treatment is critical to prevent organ failure and other life-threatening complications.
  • Treatment typically includes addressing the underlying cause of shock, maintaining airway, breathing, and circulation, and supportive care.

Shock Recognition and Treatment

How to recognize and treat shock?

Recognizing and treating shock as soon as possible is vital:

  • Recognize the signs of shock: rapid, weak, or absent pulse; irregular heart beat; low blood pressure; cold, clammy, or bluish skin; rapid breathing; and changes in consciousness.
  • Call your local emergency number.
  • Begin CPR if the person is unresponsive or has no pulse.
  • If possible, try to improve circulation by laying the person flat and elevating the legs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Shock

What causes shock?

Shock can be caused by anything that reduces blood flow, including heart problems, dehydration, severe allergic reactions, certain bacterial infections, and severe bleeding.

How is shock treated?

Treatment for shock involves maintaining airway, breathing, and circulation, providing oxygen, and treating the underlying cause of shock.


  1. Mayo Clinic. (2023). Shock: First aid. Retrieved July 26, 2023, from
  2. MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Shock. Retrieved July 26, 2023, from