An Overview

Fainting also called syncope (pronounced SIN-ko-pee), is a sudden, brief loss of consciousness and posture caused by decreased blood flow to the brain.Fainting happens when you lose consciousness for a short amount of time because your brain isn’t getting enough oxygen. The medical term for fainting is syncope, but it’s more commonly known as “passing out.” A fainting spell generally lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes. Feeling lightheaded, dizzy, weak, or nauseous sometimes happens before you faint. In most cases, the individual who has fainted regains complete consciousness within just a few minutes.

Fainting is a common problem, accounting for 3% of emergency room visits and 6% of hospital admissions. Some people become aware that noises are fading away, or they describe the sensation as “blacking out” or “whiting out.” A full recovery usually takes a few minutes. If there’s no underlying medical condition causing you to faint, you may not need any treatment.
Fainting isn’t usually a cause for concern, but it can sometimes be a symptom of a serious medical problem. If you have no previous history of fainting and you’ve fainted more than once in the past month, you should talk to your doctor.

Types of Fainting

Apart from distinguishing episodes of fainting by their underlying cause, one of two different types of fainting might occur:
• Pre- or near-syncope: This occurs when a person can remember events or sensations during the loss of consciousness, such as dizziness, blurred vision, and muscle weakness. They may remember falling before hitting their head and losing consciousness.
• Syncope: This occurs when a person can remember the feelings of dizziness and loss of vision but not the fall itself.

Symptoms of Fainting

Being unconscious is not normal. If you or someone else has fainted, call 911 or go to your nearest Urgent Care.
Symptoms of fainting include:

• Weak
• Nausea
• Dizzy or the is room spinning (vertigo)
• Vision may fade or becomes blurred
• Hearing may be muffled

Causes of fainting

A vasovagal attack happens because blood pressure drops, reducing circulation to the brain and causing loss of consciousness. Typically an attack occurs while standing and is frequently preceded by a sensation of warmth, nausea, lightheadedness and visual “grayout.” If the syncope is prolonged, it can trigger a seizure. In many cases, the cause of fainting is unclear.
You may suffer from a simple fainting spell due to anxiety, fear, pain, intense emotional stress, hunger, or use of alcohol or drugs. Most people who suffer from simple fainting have no underlying heart or neurological (nerve or brain) problem.Fainting can be triggered by a number of factors, including:

• Diseases of the autonomic nervous system.

Your autonomic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary vital functions, such as the beating of your heart, the degree to which your blood vessels are constricted, and breathing. Autonomic nervous system problems include acute or subacute dysautonomia, chronic post-ganglionic autonomic insufficiency, and chronic pre-ganglionic autonomic insufficiency.

Heart or blood vessel problems that interfere with blood flow to the brain.

These may include heart block (a problem with the electrical impulses that control your heart muscle), problems with the sinus node (a specialized area of your heart that helps it beat), heart arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm), a blood clot in the lungs, an abnormally narrowed aortic heart valve or certain other problems with the structure of your heart.


If the person experiences numbness in the face, paralysis, weakness, numbness in one arm, or slurred speech, they need emergency medical help.
People should seek medical assistance if:
• They experienced chest pains or an irregular, pounding heartbeat before losing consciousness
• They have a history of heart disease
• Fainting caused an injury
• Fecal or urinary incontinence occurred before fainting
• They have fainted while pregnant

• Fear or other emotional trauma
• Severe pain
• A sudden drop in blood pressure
• Low blood sugar due to diabetes
• Hyperventilation
• Dehydration
• Standing in one position for too long
• Standing up too quickly
• Physical exertion in hot temperatures
• coughing too hard
• straining during a bowel movement
• consuming drugs or alcohol
• seizures


Treatment for fainting will depend on your doctor’s diagnosis.
If there are no underlying medical conditions that are causing you to faint, you generally won’t need treatment and the long-term outlook is good. If the sight or thought of injections or blood make a person feel faint, they should tell their doctor or nurse before undergoing a medical procedure that may involve this. The doctor or nurse can then make sure that the individual is in a safe position, such as lying down, before starting the procedure. People mainly use beta-blockers to treat high blood pressure. However, these drugs may also help if neurocardiogenic syncope interferes with a person’s quality of life.

How Can I Prevent Myself From Fainting?

If you have a tendency to faint and you are able to identify any situations that provoke fainting, try to avoid them. For example, you may need to be sure that you eat regularly to avoid hunger.
• Get them sitting or lying down.
• Make sure they’re well ventilated.
• Get them some juice and crackers.
• Ask them questions about themselves.
• Help them stay calm.
• Stay by their side and get someone else to call for help.

To help prevent fainting, people who have documented heart-related attacks known as neurocardiogenic syncope — mostly children and young adults — should be on a high-salt diet and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and maintain blood volume.a


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