8 Aug 2022

Shock and Unconsciousness

– The information has been reviewed by Dr. Ko Hiu Fai
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How do they differ?

In intensive care, the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) which gauges a patient’s eye opening, verbal response and motor response, serves as an assessment of impairment of conscious level. Shock and unconsciousness differ in levels of severity, with unconsciousness being more serious on all three types of responses when compared to shock.



A sudden drop in blood flow means organs do not receive sufficient blood or oxygen,it may lead to permanent damage or death if not treated in a timely manner. The causes of shock may include heart attack, heatstroke, trauma, severe burns, blood loss, serious infection, poisoning or allergic reaction, etc. Signs and symptoms of shock may include:  dizziness, rapid heart rate and breathing, nausea or vomiting, paleness, cyanosis (lips or finger tips turn purple), weakness or dilated pupils.



The patient is unable to response to the surrounding, cannot be woken, unable to control and open his or her eyes or lethargic (no response to sound or pain stimulations). Unconsciousness is mainly triggered by cardiac arrest, a stroke, brain damage, drug intoxication or diabetic coma with dysglycemia (too high or too low blood sugar level).


First Aid

  1. Call 999 for an ambulance, or seek medical assistance at your nearest Urgent Care Clinic.
  2. Lay the patient down and slightly elevate his or her legs, unless there is severe leg injury.
  3. Loosen tight clothing to facilitate breathing, or keep the patient warm with blankets.
  4. Keep the patient still, and avoid unnecessary movements.
  5. Perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if the patient stops breathing or responding to external stimuli.
  6. Apply direct pressure on the wound with a towel or bed sheets to stop bleeding in case of severe blood loss.
  7. Lay the patient on one side of his/ her body to prevent choking on their own vomit if he/ she has no spinal injuries or vomiting blood.