What to do when a child is in Shock

A reaction to any severe injury, shock is a life threatening state of collapse when blood pressure falls dangerously low. The brain has overall control of all bodily functions, including the heart and lungs. Its functioning is dependent on an adequate supply of sufficiently oxygenated blood. In the case of a shock, blood supply to the brain is reduced considerably. The child’s body closes up the blood vessels near the skin’s surface to conserve the blood supply for the internal organs. This makes the child pale and his skin cold and clammy.



Your child will have symptoms like a pale sweaty skin, rapid shallow breathing, a blue or greyish tinge inside the lips or under the fingernails, restlessness, drowsiness or confusion and unconsciousness.

  • Make your child lie down with his head lower than his feet so that adequate amount of blood returns to his brain.
  • Keep his head turned to one side so that if he vomits, he will not choke.
  • Loosen any tight clothing so that his breathing is not restricted.
  • Cover with a blanket or a coat to preserve his body warmth.
  • Comfort him so that he gets over his fear and relaxes.
  • Do not give him anything to drink until he returns back to normal. He cannot digest anything when his body is fighting shock.
  • Do not warm him with a hot water bottle. His colour will improve, but it will be at the expense of his internal organs, which need extra blood at this moment. Artificial warming will force the blood
    vessels near his skin to reopen.
  • If it is a minor shock, even five minutes of lying down should reverse it. Your child’s colour will
    improve and he will either drop off to sleep or sit up and get on with life. If he drops off to sleep keep a watch on him in case he vomits and chokes.
  • If he does not seem normal within half an hour, call your doctor. It is possible that the incident which led to the shock was more serious that you had thought.
  • If he is unconscious, check his breathing. If he is not breathing, start artificial respiration. If he is breathing, make him lie down flat on his stomach.
  • If it not a minor shock, just making him lie down is not going to help, especially if he has been bleeding heavily or a is dehydrated, has had a severe scald or burn, uncontrollable sickness or diarrhoea.
    In all these cases, the amount of fluid in his body would have reduced, making recovery more difficult. The reduction of fluid will make the heart pump more vigorously, but the reduced amount available for
    circulation will make it less efficient. As a result, very small amount of blood will go to the brain, thus affecting the efficiency of its control circuits. Such a case needs professional attention immediately. Without treatment, acute shock could lead to failure of circulation and of breathing.The symptoms of minor shock and acute shock are similar. It is only more pronounced in the latter case. The child looks and acts “collapsed”. Dizziness and faintness may be so pronounced that the child may is barely conscious. He may also be delirious and not recognise you.
    If you do not see any noticeable improvement after making the child lie doown, his condition is obviously getting worse.

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