Know More About the Different Types of Shock

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Treating Shock
Individuals enrolled in first aid training will learn several techniques to manage victims of shock

Shock occurs when there is inadequate blood volume in the systemic circulation. It may be caused by a wide range of factors, such as when the heart fails to pump out blood or when the blood vessels dilate. Shock may also result from a serious injury and medical problem. Early recognition and diagnosis of shock is essential in preventing its life-threatening complications.

There is more than one type of shock. Advanced first aid courses for healthcare providers include a module on how to recognize and identify the different types of shock, as well as the appropriate emergency care for each type. Here is an overview of the different types of shock:

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  • Cardiogenic shock ­– results from the inability of the heart to pump adequate volume of blood to vital body parts. The most common causes are serious cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack (myocardial infarction).
  • Hypovolemic shock – results from the inadequate volume of blood and body fluids in the circulation. When shock is caused by the loss of blood products (such as in crushing injuries, trauma, and burns), the condition may be referred to as hemorrhagic shock. Dehydration due to heavy sweating, vomiting or diarrhea can also cause hypovolemic shock.
  • Anaphylactic shock – refers to a widespread and life-threatening reaction of the body to an allergen. It may develop rapidly after exposure to certain substances such as drugs, foods, and insect bites.
  • Neurogenic shock – due to the failure of the brain and the nervous system to control the diameter of the blood vessels. Over-dilated blood vessels create a vascular container that is too great to be filled up with available blood, causing inadequate circulating blood volume. This is most commonly seen after brain or spinal cord injury.
  • Psychogenic shock – caused by a reaction of the nervous system to sudden events such as bad news, fear, minor injury, and other acute crisis situations. The nervous system triggers a sudden dilation of the blood vessels that temporarily interrupts proper blood flow to the brain, causing the individual to faint or collapse. Normally, this condition is only temporary and resolves without further medical treatment.
  • Metabolic shock – caused by the loss of body fluids and changes in the body’s chemical balance. It is often associated with vomiting, excessive urination, and diarrhea, but may also be caused by conditions affecting the thyroid, adrenal, or pituitary glands.
  • Septic shock – results from a severe infection. Toxins are released into the body circulation causing the blood vessels to dilate. In addition, blood volume is also reduced due to the loss of plasma. This is more commonly seen in the healthcare setting, especially in patients with severe infections.

Knowing the cause of shock is critical in providing emergency care to a patient. Although the basic first aid treatments for shock are usually the same, identifying the cause of the decreased blood volume can help provide better first aid measures.

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