What is shock?

Shock is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body is not getting enough blood flow. Lack of blood flow means the cells and organs do not get enough oxygen and nutrients to function properly.

The main types of shock include:

  • Cardiogenic shock (due to heart problems)

  • Hypovolemic shock (caused by too little blood volume)

  • Anaphylactic shock (caused by allergic reaction)

  • Septic shock (due to infections)

The main focus in first aid is "Circulatory Shock" where the body is does not have enough blood flow to the tissues of the body as a result of problems with the circulatory system. 

Blood carries oxygen and other essential substances to your organs and tissues. When heavy bleeding occurs, there is not enough blood in circulation for the heart to be an effective pump. Once your body loses these substances faster than it can replace them, organs in your body begin to shut down and the symptoms of shock occur. Blood pressure plummets, which can be life-threatening.

Whole body circulatory failure

Hypovolemic shock is an emergency condition in which severe blood or fluid loss makes the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body due to poor blood pressure.


What causes Hypovolemic Shock

Hypovolemic shock is caused by severe blood and fluid loss, such as from traumatic bodily injury, which makes the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body, or severe anemia where there is not enough blood to carry oxygen through the body.

Bodily fluids as per the below:

Blood loss.png

Signs and symptoms of shock


This gives our skin colour



  • Caused by shock

  • Reduced blood flow means reduced heat

  • COLD SKIN + blue coloured skin = CYANOSIS


a bluish discoloration of the skin due to poor circulation or inadequate oxygenation of the blood.

First Aid - Cyanosis

Other signs and symptoms

  • cold or clammy skin

  • pale skin

  • rapid, shallow breathing

  • rapid heart rate

  • little or no urine output

  • confusion

  • weakness

  • weak pulse

  • blue lips and fingernails

  • lightheadedness

  • loss of consciousness

Treatment of shock

  1. Deal with the injury or condition

  2. Make them comfortable and lay them down

  3. Raise both legs providing it does not compromise their injuries further

  4. Keep them warm (blanket) and maintain their response levels by talking to them

  5. Call for an ambulance

  6. Monitor their response and breathing

  7. Do not allow them to smoke, eat or drink as it may affect their well-being and it could compromise further treatment

Shock treatment.png