Topic Overview

Shock means that your body and its functions are shutting down. The body goes into shock when it can’t get enough blood to
the vital organs like your heart or brain. This may be caused by a sudden illness, an injury, or bleeding. Sometimes even a mild injury will lead to

Shock is a life-threatening condition. If a person develops signs of shock, call 911 or other emergency services and
begin home treatment immediately.

Signs of shock include:

  • Passing out (losing
  • Feeling very dizzy or lightheaded, like you may
    pass out. A child may be very sleepy or hard to wake up.
  • Breathing fast even at rest.
  • Feeling very weak or having trouble standing
  • Being less alert. You may suddenly be unable to respond to
    questions, or you may be confused, restless, or fearful. A child may not know who people are or where he or she is.

Home Treatment

Prompt home treatment can save the
person’s life.

  • Call 911 or other emergency
  • Have the person lie down. If there is an injury to the
    head, neck, or chest, keep the legs flat. Otherwise,
    raise the person’s legs at least
    12 in. (30 cm).
  • If
    the person vomits, roll him or her to one side to let fluids drain from the
    mouth. If you think the person might have a neck or back injury, gently roll the
    person’s head, neck, shoulders, and body together as a unit (logroll).
  • Stop any bleeding (see
    stopping severe bleeding), and splint any broken bones
  • Keep the person warm but not
    hot. Put a blanket under the person, and cover him or her with a sheet or
    blanket, depending on the weather. If the person is in a hot place, try to keep
    the person cool.
  • Take the person’s pulse in case medical staff on
    the phone need to know how fast or slow it is. See
    how to take a pulse. Take it again if the person’s condition
  • Try to keep the person calm.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP – Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine

Current as ofMarch 20, 2017