Types of Shock and Their Causes

Shocks are very fatal and need immediate actions as it may cause death at an instant.

emergency responders attending to woman in shock

Shock is having inadequate blood and oxygen flowing to important organs of the body. Blood pressure drops as it affects and lowers the amount of oxygen and nutrients flowing in the body. This denies the organs and tissues with oxygen and allows a rapid build-up of waste products harming the brain, heart, and lungs leading to complications and death. In this article, we will discuss types of shock, what causes them, and how to treat them.

Types of Shock

Severe injuries and illnesses go with it as the body experiences pressure. This may come from the different types of shock that involve low blood pressure, dizziness, shallow breathing, and trauma to name a few.

It is important to note that medical shock is different from psychological shock. Here’s the difference:

  • Medical Shock: Deals with the body as an internal or external emergency condition that damages organs. This could heart failure, lack of oxygen,  spinal cord impairment, and so on
  • Psychological Shock: Deals with emotions and the mental state of a person to an event that is terrifying or traumatic in nature. This could be witnessing something tragic, experiencing violence, and other stressful situations.

Types of Medical Shock

1. Anaphylactic Shock

Anaphylactic Shock is a result of a severe allergic reaction to food, venom, and medication. This allergic reaction is called Anaphylaxis. It is activated by allergens, or smalls substances, that have entered the body through eating and breathing. This makes the immune system to overreact and release chemicals causing airway blockage, swelling,  a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Cause of Anaphylactic Shock: Allergens causing Anaphylaxis

  • Food: Peanuts and fish are some of the examples of foods that may cause an allergic reaction. This may show symptoms of skin rash, diarrhea, runny nose, headaches, and asthma.
  • Medication: Penicillin is one of the medicines that may cause an anaphylactic reaction. It is an antibiotic that treats bacterial infection. If the body overacts to this medication it shows symptoms of rashes, itchy eyes, swollen lips, and face.
  • Venom: Bee sting may give a serious body reaction through its venom that may cause poisoning. Symptoms of this are hives, headache, fainting, difficulty in breathing, low blood pressure, and many more.
  • Pet dander: These are tiny skin particles that are present in animals with furs, like cats and dogs. Its main source is the protein found in the fur that may cause an allergic reaction. It is present too in animal urine and saliva. Once inhaled the immune system reacts and may show signs of symptoms like sneezing, coughing, itchiness, and eczema to name a few.

2. Septic Shock

Septic Shock is the cause of an imbalance in fighting chemicals against infection, called Sepsis. These damages the organs, as tiny blood clots develop and cause inflammation that blocks oxygen and nutrients from reaching the heart, brain, and kidneys. As sepsis gets severe it progresses into a septic shock that may lead to death as blood pressure drops. Dizziness, problems with breathing, discoloration of the lips are some of its symptoms.

Cause of Septic Shock: Sepsis

  • Pneumonia: this is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation in the air sacs of the lungs. These air sacs are filled with fluid causing cough with phlegm and difficulty in breathing.
  • Urinary Tract Infection: a bacterial infection affecting the bladder, space for urine, and urethra, channels the urine out of the body. UTI can lead to a kidney infection if this doesn’t treat immediately.
  • Bacterial Gastroenteritis: a bacterial infection affecting the gut area causing inflammation in the stomach and intestines. People with this infection experience diarrhea and vomiting.

3. Cardiogenic Shock

Cardiogenic shock is the result of a damaged and weak heart muscle from a heart attack. Heart attacks occur as the supply of blood to the heart is blocked by blood clots by various substance buildup like cholesterol. As a result, the heart becomes frail and fails to pump blood affecting organs negatively and blood pressure falling leading to death.

Cause of Cardiogenic Shock

  • Pulmonary embolism: This is a blockage in a lung artery by a blood clot as it causes damage to the lungs and other organs.
  • Ventricular Fibrillation: this happens as the electrical activity of the heart’s lower chambers are disordered causing it to quiver and prohibits the heart from pumping blood. As a result, cardiac arrest happens.
  • Ventricular Tachycardia: this occurs when an improper electrical activity happens that makes the heart rhythm move fast and send irregular electrical signals causing inadequate blood pumped by the heart.

4. Hypovolemic Shock

Hypovolemic Shock is a condition of massive blood loss, losing 20 percent or more to injuries, cuts, and internal bleeding that makes the heart unable to pump enough blood for the body. This affects the organ’s functionality as no more enough blood circulates the body and may lead to death.

Causes of Hypovolemic shock

  • Blood loss: anything that may incur heavy amounts of blood loss is very dangerous and may cause Hypovolemic shock. It could be pregnancy, as women lose blood in delivering babies, and accidents that involve deep cuts that produce continuous bleeding.
  • Internal Bleeding: this is a result of an injury, or penetrating trauma, where a foreign object makes a hole in a blood vessel-like stabbing. Another is when blood vessels are crushed inside the body by force like car accidents and falling.

5. Neurogenic Shock

Neurogenic Shock is a result of an injury or trauma to the spine that causes irregular blood circulation in the body.

Causes of Neurogenic Shock

  • Injury: having a damaged spinal cord creates heavy pressure in the neck, head, and back. Losing a sense of touch from the hands and feeling of the feet and toes may occur as this situation makes an abnormal blood circulation in the body.


Shocks are very fatal and need immediate actions as it may cause death at an instant. Knowing these types and their causes will make us manage these situations immediately. If in case there are incidents that happen involving one of these types of shocks, getting medical help at an instant is needed. Also able to identify these causes can help save a life by providing first aid treatment, until the time that medical help arrives. Furthermore, it is important to stay healthy and seek consultation with medical professionals about unusual things happening in your body.

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