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First Aid and Emergencies

Shock

Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

Shock may develop as a result of sudden illness or injury. When the circulatory system is unable to get enough blood to the vital organs, the body goes into shock. Sometimes even a mild injury will lead to shock.

Counting Respiration Rates

The respiration rate is the number of breaths a person takes in 1 minute. It increases with fever and some illnesses. The best time to count the respiration rate is when a person is resting, perhaps after taking the person's pulse while your fingers are still on the person's wrist. The person's breathing is likely to change if he or she knows you are counting it.

  • Count the number of times the chest rises in 1 full minute.

  • Notice whether there is any sucking in beneath the ribs or any apparent wheezing or difficulty breathing.

    Normal resting respiration rate:

    Newborn to 1 year: 40-60 breaths/minute

    1 through 6 years: 18-26 breaths/minute

    7 years through adult: 12-24 breaths/minute

The signs of shock include:

Shock is a life-threatening condition. Prompt Home Treatment can save the person's life.

Home Treatment

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  • Have the person lie down and elevate his or her legs 30 cm (12 inches) or more. If the injury is to the head, neck, or chest, keep the legs flat. If the person vomits, roll the person to one side to let fluids drain from the mouth. Use care if there could be a spinal injury (See Spinal Injuries).

  • Control any bleeding (see Cuts on See Cuts) and splint any fractures (See Splinting).

  • Keep the person warm, but not hot. Place a blanket underneath the person, and cover the person with a sheet or blanket, depending on the weather. If the person is in a hot place, try to keep the person cool.

  • Take and record the person's pulse every 5 minutes. See Counting Respiration Rates.

  • Comfort and reassure the person to relieve anxiety.

When to Call a Health Professional

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Call 911 or seek emergency services if the person develops signs of shock.