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 bleedingFirst aid for shock
  • 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

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