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Electric shock: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About electric shock

Electric shock is very serious and potentially life-threatening condition which occurs when a person comes in contact with live electric current. It is an emergency situation and survival depends on immediate resuscitation.

Electric shock: Incidence, age and sex

Electric shock can occur at any age; however it is most commonly seen in young men.

Signs and symptoms of electric shock: Diagnosis

The symptoms of electric shock are of sudden onset and the person may lose consciousness immediately. There may be burning of the skin at the point of entry of the current as well as its exit. On physical examination, the pulse may be weak, slow or rapid. Blood pressure may be low or even unrecordable. If there is a delay in instituting therapy, there may be signs of permanent brain damage like absent papillary reaction to light and absent doll’s eye movements. The person may fall as a result of electric shock and may sustain a fracture or other traumatic injury.

Causes and prevention of electric shock

Electric shock is a result of a faulty electric device or wiring. Prevention against electrical injury can be achieved by paying careful attention to the wiring and appliances and taking care of earthing. Electric appliances should not be operated barefeet or with wet hands.

Electric shock: Complications

Electric shock can cause the heart rhythm to become irregular. There may be slow cardiac rhythm (bradycardia) or very fast rhythm (tachycardia, fibrillation). If not treated immediately, it may lead to death. Permanent brain damage may occur as a result of impaired oxygen supply to brain. A fall during electric shock may result in a fracture or head injury. Electric burns may involve a considerable area of skin and may require prolonged treatment.

Electric shock: Treatment

The treatment of electric shock involves immediate resuscitative efforts. Mouth to mouth breathing and chest compressions may be needed. If a defibrillator is available, DC shock should be administered. All efforts should be done to transfer the person to a place with facilities for advanced cardiac life support. Electric burns need specialized treatment under expert guidance. Any fracture or head injury needs to be appropriately treated.