How to Spot Shock in Children
When a child has a serious injury or infection, the body may react by going into shock. Shock occurs when the body tried to redirect blood to the brain and other important internal organs. As a result, less blood is sent to the outside parts of the body, so the child appears pale and has cold, clammy skin.
When a child is in shock, it may be hard to detect a pulse and blood pressure. Conditions that can cause shock include bleeding, poisoning, broken bones, severe allergic reactions, head injuries, heat stroke, dehydration, blood infections and meningitis.
Shock is a serious emergency requiring prompt medical treatment. You should never delay in calling for professional medical help if you suspect a child is unwell with shock.
Spotting the Signs of Shock
Look for the following primary signs of shock in any major injury or other medical emergencies:
- Cold, clammy, pale or mottled skin
- Weak and rapid pulse
- Lightheadedness or fainting
- Irregular, rapid and shallow breathing
- Extreme thirst
Other possible signs of shock include:
- Pinched and vacant expression
- Glassy or dull eyes, with enlarged pupils and a staring gaze
- Restlessness, agitation or groaning without experiencing pain or exhibiting obvious injuries
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
First Aid for Shock in Children
- Call for immediate emergency medical help. The child needs to get to an emergency facility as soon as possible.
- Keep the child laying down and elevate the feet. Try to keep the head lower than the heart to promote adequate circulation to the brain.
- Keep the child warm with a blanket or clothing.
- Administer first aid as needed for any injuries that may have caused the shock, such as bleeding or a broken bone.
- Try to keep the child calm and still, and avoid unnecessary noise and questions.
- Continue to monitor the child’s breathing and pulse until help arrives.