Fainting is a normal biological event, in which, a person suffers from sudden loss of consciousness. In medical terms, it is known as 'syncope' pronounced as 'sin-ko-pea'. It generally occurs, when there is a sudden decrease in the oxygen supply to the brain. A person standing upright collapses and crumples to the ground in no time. In most cases, the patient regains consciousness within a few minutes.
However, there can be some serious reasons for fainting, which may leave a person in an unconscious state for a considerable period, and immediate medical intervention may be required. But, still, most of the fainting spells do not have life-threatening consequences. It is only the recurring fainting instances that one needs to worry about.
Fainting can affect anyone anytime, irrespective of the age of a person. Those who are already weak, dehydrated, suffering from some illness, are more prone to sudden fainting. Standing in the sun for a long time can also be one of the causes of syncope.
A sudden drop in the supply of oxygen to the brain due to numerous reasons can cause syncope. One loses control on his muscles, which ultimately causes the person to collapse. Following are certain causes associated with the condition:
This is one of the common causes of syncope and collapse in people of all age groups. It occurs due to low blood sugar level, which leads to a decrease in oxygen supply to the brain. It can also be a result of fasting, or too much gap in meal timings.
Dehydration causes a decrease in the level of water in the blood stream and lowers the blood pressure, which stimulates the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is concerned with managing the regular blood flow to the stomach. On stimulation, it directs the blood flow to the intestine providing very little supply to the brain, which leads to syncope.
In case of a shock, there is a sudden fall in the blood pressure resulting in reducing the level of oxygen reaching the brain. This directly affects the nervous system and leads to a blackout. Shock can occur on unexpected exposure to any unpleasant sight like that of blood. It can also be due to intense fear, anxiety, or being emotionally upset.
A lot of exertion can cause a drop in the blood pressure. Due to low blood pressure, the heart is unable to pump enough blood, which leads to decreased blood supply to the brain causing a person to pass out. Sometimes, it can also be a sign of some heart disease that is ignored.
Loss of blood due to an accident, or donating blood can sometimes drop the blood level far below normal, which can be one of the causes of sudden unconsciousness.
Other factors include stress, pain, heavy use of drugs, like, cocaine and marijuana, or alcohol, some kind of head injury, deprivation of sleep, seizures, potassium deficiency, etc. Heavy intake of certain medicines can also lead to fainting. It is also quite normal in pregnancy.
Fainting In Children
About 20% of the children have dizzy spells before the age of 15. This is a very common instance, though not a very serious issue. The common reason for fainting in children is known as vasovagal syncope. Majority of the cases occur due to overexertion, sudden trauma, unpleasant sight of blood, anxiety, extreme fear of a particular thing, or watching movies, which really freaks them out.
However, correct diagnosis of the cause is a crucial step in dealing with the condition occurring in kids. It can be a sign of some hidden disease, which might have been neglected so far. Complete physical examination along with the details of the family medical history, is required for proper treatment.
Before a fainting spell, one generally experiences the following signs and symptoms:
- Fading of vision
- Sweaty palms
- Shortness of breath
Treatment for syncope and collapse solely depends upon the particular reason behind it. Proper diagnosis, according to the symptoms, must be carried out. The diagnostic tests include, stress testing, event recorder, echocardiography or electro physiology testing. One must consult a cardiologist or a neurologist in case of frequent dizzy spells. Although it is not life-threatening, one must be aware of the first aid to be administered when such a situation occurs. You must know how to deal with it when you see a person faint in front of you.
- Check to see, if the airways are clear, and also the breathing
- Loosen the tight clothing, like the collar around the neck.
- Check for the pulse.
- Stimulate the person by tapping briskly.
- Let the person be lying down and raise his feet above the heart level.
- In some cases, artificial respiration may be necessary.
So the next time you see someone faint around, you don't panic, and also don't hesitate to go ahead and help.