What To Do When a Child’s Body Goes Into Shock

Sometimes when a child gets very sick or hurt, their body can go into something called shock. Shock is serious and needs treatment quickly from doctors and nurses. But don’t worry, we’re going to learn all about shock so you can help keep kids safe! We will also look at how PALS certification and PALS renewal can help you recognize the signs of shock in your child. 

What Is Shock?

Shock happens when there are big problems in the body that make it hard for blood to flow normally. Without optimal blood flow, the body’s cells and organs can’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need to work properly.

There are a few main types of shock:

  • Hypovolemic Shock – This is from losing too much blood or body fluids. 
  • Cardiogenic Shock – This is from the heart not pumping blood well. 
  • Septic Shock – This is due to a bad infection making the body react in a dangerous way. Other kinds of shock can happen too, but these are the most common in children.

What Are The Signs That a Child Is in Shock?

It’s very important to recognize the signs of shock early because the body can get damaged quickly. Here are some of the main things to look out for:

  • Pale, cool, and sweaty skin, 
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath 
  • Dizziness, weakness, confusion, or passing out 
  • Nausea or vomiting Fast, weak pulse
  • Not going to the bathroom as much Blue tint to lips or nails

Some younger kids might seem very sleepy, cranky, or just “not themselves” if they are going into shock. Babies may refuse to eat or cry weakly. The key is looking for a combination of these worrying signs.

What Are The Causes of Shock in Children?

Any serious injury or illness can potentially lead to shock in kids if it causes problems with blood flow or bleeding. Some common causes include:

  • Dehydration from vomiting, diarrhea, or fever 
  • Bad allergic reactions 
  • Severe infections
  • Uncontrolled diabetes 
  • Major trauma like car crashes or falls 
  • Heart problems 
  • Blood loss from injuries, surgery, or childbirth

It’s scary, but important to know that even healthy kids with minor issues can go into shock quickly if it’s not caught and treated soon enough.

What Are The Dangers of Shock?

Shock is a medical emergency because it starves the body’s cells and organs of oxygen and nutrients. If shock isn’t treated, it can lead to:

  • Organ failure – Major organs like the kidneys, liver, and heart can stop working properly 
  • Brain damage – Without enough oxygen, brain cells start dying 
  • Cardiac arrest – If the heart doesn’t get blood, it could stop beating entirely Death – Sadly, shock is deadly if the underlying causes aren’t fixed

But the good news is that shock is very treatable, especially if it’s caught early! Quick action can prevent a child from getting sicker.

What Is The Treatment Of Shock?

If your child is showing signs of shock, call 911 right away! Shock requires immediate emergency medical treatment.

Before help arrives, here are some things you can do:

  • Lay the child down and elevate their feet slightly above heart level 
  • Keep them as still and calm as possible
  • Loosen any tight clothing 
  • Don’t give them anything to eat or drink 
  • Cover them with a blanket if they feel cold

At the hospital, doctors and nurses will work quickly to identify and treat the cause of the shock. This might involve:

  • Giving fluids or blood through an IV 
  • Providing oxygen therapy 
  • Using medications to help blood flow 
  • Surgery for internal bleeding or injuries 
  • Antibiotics for infections

The key is restoring normal blood flow and oxygen levels throughout the body before permanent damage happens.

How Can You Get PALS Certified?

One group of medical professionals who are specially trained to treat shock and other emergencies in children are those with PALS certification. PALS is the short form for Pediatric Advanced Life Support.

PALS certification teaches people like doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other providers the most up-to-date methods for caring for critically ill or injured children. This includes recognizing and treating different types of shock.

People with PALS training learn important skills like:

  • Assessing a child’s condition quickly 
  • Securing an airway and providing breathing support 
  • Managing heart problems and cardiac arrests 
  • Giving the right medications and providing fluids 
  • Stabilizing fractures and controlling bleeding

Having PALS-certified experts involved in a child’s care, especially in an emergency, can make a huge difference! Their special training helps them act fast and provide the most effective treatments.

Who Can Get PALS Certified?

Lots of different medical professionals get PALS certified, including:

  • Emergency room doctors and nurses 
  • Paramedics and EMTs Intensive care staff
  • Operating room teams 
  • Pediatricians 
  • School nurses

But it’s not just for those who work in hospitals! PALS is also very helpful for firefighters, police officers, camp counselors, and childcare workers. That way if a child emergency happens, they’ll be ready.

Even parents can get basic PALS training so they know what to do while waiting for advanced care to arrive.

What Is The PALS Certification Process?

  • To get your initial PALS certification, you have to:
  • Take an in-person skills training course 
  • Learn how to respond to different pediatric emergencies 
  • Practice using specialized medical equipment 
  • Pass hands-on tests for things like CPR and airway management 
  • Pass a written test

The whole process takes about 1-2 days of intensive training. But it’s worth it to learn these lifesaving skills! You get a PALS certification card that’s valid for 2 years.

What Can You Do To Keep Your PALS Certificate Updated?

After those 2 years, you have to get “re-certified” by taking a shorter PALS renewal course and passing the tests again. Renewal training is important because guidelines and best practices for pediatric care can change. New medical equipment and technologies can also be introduced. The recertification also refreshes skills that don’t get used as often.

By renewing PALS certification every 2 years, doctors, nurses, and other providers stay on top of their emergency care game for kids. 


While shock in children can be very scary, it’s important to know that it is treatable, especially when caught early. By learning the signs and knowing when to call for emergency medical assistance, you can get kids the care they need. You can also get your PALS certification and be ready for any scenario. Just remember to get your PALS renewal every two years.