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What is Shock?

Before you ask, no, I am not a doctor nor do I play one on television. I just find the topic fascinating and I love to do research. As you will see, I am backing things up with references to actual professional opinions. Now that you have read this far, remember, I am not a doctor so any advice, diagnosis or treatment should be done only by a professional. If you have any concerns, make an appointment with your doctor.

We have all heard someone make expressions such as "I was shocked!" That type of shock is referred to as psychogenic shock which is not a true shock condition. Psychogenic shock is an instance where blood vessels will suddenly dilate due to emotional factors which may cause a person to pass out since the blood quickly rushes away from the brain. It is a temporary and non-serious issue, unless one is driving or operating heavy machinery or swimming or at a high place.

There is a different type of shock which is a serious matter. "Shock is a life-threatening medical condition as a result of insufficient blood flow throughout the body" (Cunha, 2011). This type of shock is life-threatening because one type of shock can trigger another type of shock which can cause total organ failure and death.

The different types of shock are:

Symptoms of shock will often include:

There are various symptoms in addition to those above, but it will depend on the type of shock. One may have trouble breathing with a swelling in the throat which could be anaphylactic or allergic in nature. Or one might have dark or bloody urine in the case of septic or metabolic shock. Hot and dry skin could point to hypovolemic shock. The blood pressure might even be normal or slightly high at the beginning, but take a sudden drop when it is too late to do anything about it.

For more information on the different types of shock and how to prevent an unnecessary escalation, visit Normotensive and hypertensive (cryptic) shocks by Henri F. Cuénoud, MD.