How to Recognise Hypovolemic Shock
Hypovolemic shock occurs as a result of fluid loss from the circulatory system. This can be due to:
- Blood loss from external or internal bleeding
- Fluid loss with burns
- Fluid loss with severe vomiting and diarrhea
The reduction of the blood/fluid volume in the circulation leads to a fall in pressure in the arteries and arterioles. This triggers a response from the sympathetic nervous system, which releases adrenaline/epinephrine.
This effect causes
- Pulse to rise
- Arterioles to constrict
- Skin pallor and a fast, thready pulse.
- Pain and anxiety exaggerate this response.
Recognition of Hypovolemic shock
Early signs and symptoms of hypovolemic shock are:
- Skin pallor with cold clamminess – due to constriction of the peripheral blood vessels as a result of adrenaline/epinephrine release.
- Raised pulse rate – due directly to adrenaline/epinephrine release.
- At a later stage, reduced pressure in the arteries – due to loss of circulating fluid.
- Confusion, aggression and drowsiness – due to cerebral hypoxia.
- Raised respiratory rate – due to hypoxia.
- General weakness – due to hypoxia.
- Thirst – due to loss of circulating fluid volume.
- Low blood pressure – due to loss of circulating fluid volume