What are the different types of shock?

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“Shock” can be in reference to a psychological shock, for example due to a traumatic event, or a physiologic kind of shock. Here we focus on the multiple causes of physiologic shock.

The human body experiences shock when the blood that’s pumping around it isn’t enough to keep organs and tissues functioning properly. It’s a medical emergency requiring immediate and effective treatment, but in children it’s not always easy to spot.

There are four major types of shock, each of which can be caused by several different things.

1. Cardiogenic shock

If the heart is damaged then the blood flow around the body may be decreased, which can bring on cardiogenic shock.

Common causes of this type of shock include:

·  Irregular heart rhythm

·  Damage to the heart muscle

·  A heart rhythm that’s very slow

2. Obstructive shock

Obstructive shock takes place when the blood can’t get where it needs to go. One reason for this could be a pulmonary embolism for example, that’s interrupting the flow of the blood. Patients presenting with a condition which causes a build-up of fluid or air in the chest cavity (such as pneumonia) can also develop obstructive shock.

Other reasons include:

· Hemothorax (where blood pools in the space between the lung and the chest wall)

· Pneumothorax (where a lung collapses)

· Cardiac tamponade (where blood or fluids fill the space between the heart muscle and the sac that surrounds the heart)

3. Distributive shock

Patients with a condition that causes their blood vessels to lose their tone are more likely to suffer distributive shock. When blood vessels lack a healthy tone, they can become so floppy and open that blood pressure drops too much to supply the organs.

Symptoms of distributive shock include:

· Flushing

· Loss of consciousness

· Low blood pressure

When it comes to distributive shock there are also several different sub-types, including:

Anaphylactic shock. This is where the body detects a harmless substance but wrongly treats it as dangerous thus triggering an extreme immune response.

Anaphylaxis is typically the result of an allergic reaction to a specific food, medication, detergent, latex or insect/animal venom.

Septic shock. Also called sepsis, septic shock is a blood poisoning caused by an infection that has allowed bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Septic shock then takes place when this bacteria and their toxins seriously damage the body’s organs and tissues.

Neurogenic shock. This type of shock is caused by damage to the central nervous system, typically a spinal cord injury. This brings about a dilations of the blood vessels, so the patient’s skin may feel flushed and warm. Their heart rate will also slow right down, and their blood pressure will drop substantially.

Brain injuries and drug toxicities can also bring on distributive shock.

4. Hypovolemic shock

Hypovolemic shock occurs when there isn’t enough blood in the patient’s blood vessels to get vital oxygen to all their organs. This may be down to a traumatic event like an accident which causes very severe blood loss. Serious dehydration can also lead to hypovolemic shock.

Learn how to identify shock in children, young people and adults with our scheduled webinar courses this July

Do you feel confident in diagnosing and treating shock, in both children and adults too? Would you be able to spot all the different types of shock and know how to treat them?

Designed specifically for nurses and other front line allied health professionals, PDUK now offers a couple of excellent webinars on this subject:

The deteriorating child (11:00am on the 15th July)

The deteriorating adult (11:00am on the 22nd July)

A highly interactive, flexible way of learning PDUK webinars are ideal for any frontline healthcare professionals who need to be able to spot the various types of shock and treat them accordingly.

Perfect too for those of us working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, PDUK webinars provide a socially distanced way of learning safely.

Interested in finding out more or getting signed up? Contact us today and we’ll be pleased to help move your skills on to the next level.