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

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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