Basics on Hypovolemic Shock

People who do not know better have complained about the tendency some people confuse hypovolemic shock with hemorrhagic shock; in truth, both terms refer to roughly the same thing.

What is hypovolemic shock?

The term refers to a condition that manifests when an individual loses one-fifth of their body’s supply of blood or fluids. Such a loss is normally severe enough to debilitate the heart’s ability to pump sufficient quantities of blood through the body, which leads to complications like organ failure.blood_transfusion

Hypovolemic shock is relatively common and requires immediate emergency medical attention.

What causes the condition?

As the definition suggests, hypovolemic shock manifests when the body loses significant quantities of blood. So, naturally, the primary cause of hypovolemic shock is excessive bleeding of one sort or another; this includes bleeding from wounds and cuts, internal bleeding from ruptured ectopic pregnancy or even vaginal bleeding.

It should be emphasized that hypovolemic shock can also occur when the body loses significant quantities of fluids other than blood. In other words, individuals with excessive (or simply prolonged) diarrhea, vomiting and sweating are at a risk of falling into hypovolemic shock.


Since the symptoms of this condition are so drastic, individuals are encouraged to seek immediate emergency medical assistance. Luckily, the causes of this condition are easy enough to identify (though, this only applies to external causes) and treat, preventing hypovolemic shock before it occurs.

With internal bleeding, on the other hand, most people only identify the condition after the symptoms of hypovolemic shock have begun to appear.

Common symptoms will include dizziness, nausea, headache, and fatigue. Profuse sweating can also become an issue. In the worst case scenario, the victim’s skin will grow pale, cold and clammy.

Severe symptoms will include a rapid heart rate, confusion, weakness, shallow breathing and blue fingernails. In many cases, the victim will lose consciousness.

If you cannot identify signs of external hemorrhaging, look for blood in the urine and stool, abdominal swelling, chest pain and abdominal pain to mention but a few. Such symptoms and more could point towards internal bleeding.

While it is true that some of these symptoms can manifest with other illnesses as well, you are, none the less, encouraged to seek medical attention. Do not take chances with hypovolemic shock since it is a very serious condition that leads to death if untreated.

Death is the common result of untreated hypovolemic shock. If first responders cannot reach the victim in time, it will fall upon the individual in their immediate vicinity to perform first aid treatment. Failure to do so is likely to lead to death.