Overview on fainting

Fact Checked

Fainting is defined as an abrupt and brief episode where one loses consciousness. It is medically called as syncope. It can be brought about by various factors including a drop in the blood sugar level in the body, alcohol abuse, using certain medications and complications linked to the heart.

What are the usual causes?

The usual and less serious conditions that can lead to fainting include the following:

  • Stress
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Prolonged standing
  • Hyperventilation
  • Dehydration
  • Pregnancy
  • Low blood sugar
  • Certain drugs that lower the blood pressure and trigger fainting spells

The serious conditions that can lead to fainting include:

  • Choking
    Assess the airways for signs of breathing. If breathing or movement is absent, perform CPR and call for emergency assistance.
  • Seizures
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Stroke
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Heart attack

What are the indications?

The usual indications of fainting include:

  • Pale face
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Loss of balance resulting to falls
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Visual issues

Management of fainting

In case an individual is feeling faint, you should help him/her sit down with the head between the knees or lie him/her down.

If the individual has fainted:

  • Position him/her down, flat on the back
  • Assess the airways for signs of breathing. If breathing or movement is absent, perform CPR and call for emergency assistance.
  • If the individual is vomiting or bleeding from the mouth, turn on his/her side to prevent choking.
  • Elevate the feet slightly and loosen the clothes
  • Do not move the individual if neck or back injury is suspected.

Call for emergency assistance right away if:

  • The individual was not able to gain consciousness within 1-2 minutes
  • Not breathing or moving
  • Endured serious injuries while fainting
  • There is difficulty with vision or speech
  • Experiencing chest pain

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on fainting is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn how to manage a fainting episode, register for a first aid and CPR course with Mississauga First Aid.

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