Shock to the system

Shock is a serious condition that takes place in the body when the blood vessels dilate, and therefore inhibit circulation.  The plasma in the blood permeates through the blood vessels, leaving the blood cells within the vessels, causing stagnation and slowing the blood flow.   There are many different types of shock that result from different external factors; however the chances for shock increase after injury – especially if severe bleeding or a fracture is present.  The six types of shock are: Respiratory, Neurogenic, Psychogenic, Cardiogenic, Anaphylactic, and Metabolic.

Respiratory shock happens when the lungs are unable to supply enough oxygen to the circulating blood; the most common cause of this is a trauma to the lungs, such as a pneumothorax.  Neurogenic shock is a common type of shock in athletics; it is characterized by a general dilation of blood vessels which disable the 6 liters of blood to flow through the body.  Psychogenic shock is also known as fainting (syncope).  It is caused by a temporary dilation of blood vessels that reduces the normal amount of blood to the brain.  Cardiogenic shock is the inability of the heart to pump enough blood throughout the body.  Septic shock occurs from a severe infection (usually bacterial).  The toxins released from the bacteria cause small blood vessels in the body to dilate.  Anaphylactic shock is caused from an allergic reaction.  Management of anaphylactic shock is most commonly treated by the use of an epiPen.  Metabolic shock happens when a severe illness (such as diabetes) goes untreated, or when there is an extreme loss of body fluid, most commonly through urination, vomiting, or diarrhea.

The most common signs of shock are low blood pressure, low blood pressure (systolic usually below 90mm Hg), rapid and weak pulse, drowsy and sluggish appearance, shallow and rapid breaths, and pale and clammy skin.  Shock is most commonly treated by maintaining body temperature as close to normal as possible, elevating the feet (except in the case of a head injury), and activating emergency medical services s.  Dehydration and psychological reaction to a severe injury are major triggers for shock.  Dehydration causes the blood volume to decrease to a point where it can no longer fill the blood vessels which results in poor circulation of oxygen.  When a severe injury occurs it is important to keep the athlete calm and all measures should be taken to refrain them from looking at the injury.  If shock persists then tissue death will occur, resulting in organ failure and eventually death.  It is very important to recognize signs of shock and to act immediately.  More information on shock is available through the links below.


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