What Are the Symptoms of Hypovolemic Shock?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2019
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Hypovolemic shock may occur when a patient is dehydrated, because the body needs water to keep blood circulating properly. Though this condition can be dangerous to the health, or even fatal, there are some symptoms of hypovolemic shock that should prompt patients to get medical treatment. For example, some of the first signs may include cold, clammy skin that also is pale, an indication that there is not enough blood in most areas of the body. The brain also can be affected if treatment is not administered quickly, so confusion and even loss of consciousness may occur. Some symptoms of hypovolemic shock are only noticed for the first time by doctors, because signs might include low blood pressure, a fast heart rate and kidney failure.

Some of the most obvious symptoms involve the skin, which often is how other people notice when a patient is dealing with this health issue. The skin tends to become clammy and cold to the touch. This typically is a result of the increased amount of sweat on the surface, which also usually makes the skin moist. These symptoms tend to occur first in the extremities, because the body needs to focus on pumping blood to the crucial organs in the core instead of to the arms and legs. Another sign of this is pale skin, though the tongue, lips and lining around the eyes also may look lighter than normal.


Other symptoms of hypovolemic shock affect the mental state of the patient. For example, it is common for a patient to become anxious or scared, in general, because he may not know what is occurring. The patient also may act confused, because the brain is one part of the body that usually is negatively affected by hypovolemic shock. This is likely because this organ is not getting enough blood and there is not sufficient glucose in the body, which also can lead to loss of consciousness. It usually is important to try managing hypovolemic shock before this symptom shows up, so fast medical treatment typically is crucial.

Certain symptoms of hypovolemic shock are mainly noticeable to doctors, because patients and their loved ones may not notice certain signs. For example, both the patient's rate of breathing and heart rate may speed up, because there is not sufficient oxygen in the blood cells, an issue that may eventually lead to chest pain. Doctors may take the blood pressure and discover it is lower than usual, though some patients feel lightheaded before they are seen by a medical professional. In addition, the kidneys may signal that they are shutting down when they stop producing urine.


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