First aid

How to treat shock

How to treat shock A life threatening condition

Shock is a life-threatening condition which occurs when a person's organs don't get enough oxygen, usually due to a drop in blood circulation. If left untreated it can lead to permanant organ damage and death.

The most common causes of shock are heavy blood loss and severe burns and scalds. However, if someone shows signs of shock without an obvious injury, they may have internal bleeding.

What are the signs to look for?

  • Pale or grey coloured face
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Yawning

What you should do

  • Treat any injuries
  • Lay the person down, and raise and support the legs above the level of the heart
  • Use a coat or blanket to keep them warm, but don't smother them
  • Give reassurance
  • Don't give them anything to eat or drink
  • Loosen any tight clothing to help improve circulation
  • Monitor their condition and be prepared to resuscitate
  • Call 999

This article was published on Thu 27 May 2010

Image © V. Yakobchuk -

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