Sunday, January 15, 2006


Shock is a condition of acute circulatory failure resulting in low blood pressure extensive enough that the body cannot maintain normal functions.
Symptoms of shock include cold hands and feet; fast, weak pulse; disorientation or confusion; skin that is pale, moist, and sweaty; shortness of breath and rapid breathing; lack of urination; and low blood pressure. Causes of shock include sudden loss of blood from injury, bleeding peptic ulcer, or ruptured aneurysm; fluid loss as in severe bums, fluid and electrolyte imbalance, or peritonitis; impaired heart pumping function; blood poisoning; endocrine diseases such as Addison's disease or diabetes mellitus.
Treatment depends on the underlying disorder. If shock is from blood or fluid loss, blood transfusions or intravenous fluids are administered. If blood pressure is at a life threatening low level, drugs to raise the blood pressure are given. If infection is present, antibiotics are used.
Risk of complications increase with serious injury, surgery if infection is present, in cases of anemia and cancer, or with anaphylactic (allergic) shock to drugs such as penicillin and local anesthesia. In the elderly, mortality from shock is high, approximately 30 percent. Mortality from shock caused by intestinal obstruction and fecal peritonitis have the greatest risks with a mortality rate between 45 percent and 70 percent.
Brocklehurst, J. C.: Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1985.
Griffith, H. W. Complete Guide to Symptoms, Illness and Surgery. Tucson: The Body Press, 1985.


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