What to do if your child goes into shock

african mother and her son in doctor's office

(By Shenrina Badri) A child may go into a state of shock when there is a significant drop in his blood pressure.

This is a very dangerous situation and it is therefore important to act quickly.


The following could cause a child to go into a state of shock: spinal injury, loss of blood/ body fluids, poisoning, a severe infection, a severe allergy to a food or sting.


Symptoms of shock include rapid or shallow breathing, weakness/ dizziness, nausea, vomiting, thirst, rapid pulse, grey colouring, sweating and anxiety. As oxygen supply to the brain decreases, a child may yawn, gasp for air, become very thirsty and anxious. The child will lose consciousness eventually.

What should I do?

Call for emergency assistance immediately.

Treat the child for any obvious cause – such as bleeding or burns.

Lie the child down in a position such that his legs are higher than his chest. Then undo any clothing that may be tight on his chest, neck or waist.

If the child is unconscious or vomiting, turn him onto his side.

Try to keep calm and help the child to reduce anxiety by reassuring him. Stay close to the child and talk to him in a comforting and loving tone.

Keep the child warm by placing a blanket over him.

Never give the child anything to drink.

Whilst waiting for help to arrive, continously check on the child’s breathing and pulse. Be prepared to render CPR if necessary.

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