Hypovolemic Shock

Hypovolemic shock (Hemorrhagic shock) is a life threatening condition that results when lose more than 20% ( 1/5) of body’s blood or fluid supply.

This severe fluid loss makes it impossible for the heart to pump a sufficient amount of blood to body. Hypovolemic shock can lead to organ failure. This condition requires immediate emergency medical attention.

Blood carries oxygen and other essential substances to organs and tissues. When heavy bleeding occurs, there is not enough blood in circulation for the heart to be an effective pump. Once body loses these substances faster than it can replace them, organs in body begin to shut down and the symptoms of shock occur. Blood pressure plummets, which can be life threatening.

Causes for Hypovolemic shock

Hypovolemic shock results from significant and sudden blood or fluid losses within your body. 

Such kind of blood loss can occur because of: 

  • Bleeding from serious cuts or wounds
  • Bleeding from blunt traumatic injuries due to accidents
  • Internal bleeding from abdominal organs or ruptured ectopic pregnancy 
  • Bleeding from the digestive tract
  • Significant vaginal bleeding

In addition to actual blood loss, the loss of body fluids can cause a decrease in blood volume. This can occur in cases of:

  • Excessive or prolonged diarrhea
  • Severe burns
  • Protracted and excessive vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
Symptoms of a hypovolemic shock

The symptoms of hypovolemic shock vary with the severity of the fluid or blood loss. However, all symptoms of shock are life threatening and need emergency medical treatment. Internal bleeding symptoms may be hard to recognize until the symptoms of shock appear, but external bleeding will be visible. Symptoms of hemorrhagic shock may not appear immediately. Older adults may not experience these symptoms until the shock progresses significantly.

Mild symptoms
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Profuse sweating
  • Dizziness

Severe symptoms
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Pale skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Little or no urine output
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Weak pulse
  • Blue lips and fingernails
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of consciousness
Signs and symptoms of internal hemorrhaging include:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in the stool
  • Black, tarry stool (melena)
  • Blood in the urine
  • Vomiting blood
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal swelling

Untreated hypovolemic shock will lead to death. If any signs of hemorrhaging or of hemorrhagic shock present, seek medical attention immediately. Until then

  • Have the person lie flat with their feet elevated about 12 inches.
  • Refrain from moving the person if you suspect a head, neck, or back injury.
  • Keep the person warm to avoid hypothermia.
  • Don’t give the person fluids by mouth.
  • Don’t elevate their head. Remove any visible dirt or debris from the injury site.
  • Do not remove embedded glass, a knife, stick, arrow, or any other object stuck in the wound.
  • If the area is clear of debris and no visible object protrudes from it, apply pressure to the area.
Once at a hospital, a person suspected of having hypovolemic shock will receive fluids or blood products via an intravenous line, to replenish the blood lost and improve circulation. Blood plasma transfusion, Platelet transfusion, Red blood cell transfusion, Intravenous crystalloids may be amoung the treatments.

Medical Professional may also administer medications that increase the heart’s pumping strength to improve circulation and get blood where it’s needed. 

Close cardiac monitoring will determine the effectiveness of the treatments.


Complications may include
  • Kidney damage
  • Brain damage
  • Gangrene of arms or legs, sometimes leading to amputation
  • Heart attack
  • Other organ damage
  • Death


Thanks for reading Hypovolemic Shock

« Prev Post