Fainting

What it is, Symptoms and First Aid

Fainting is a sudden and temporary loss of consciousness due to a decrease in oxygen supply to the brain.

What we need to keep in mind is that an episode of fainting in an otherwise healthy person will pass quickly and smoothly. Conversely, in a person with health problems, such as heart or brain disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or others, an episode of fainting or syncope may indicate that something more serious is happening  that might even be life threatening. Certainly in these cases immediate medical intervention is required.

The first thing to do as soon as someone faints is to check if s/he is breathing.

We should immediately call anmbulance if the person:

  1. Has a history of fainting often
  2. Does not recover quickly
  3. Fainted while sitting or lying down
  4. Fainted for no apparent reason

A fainting can cause fractures due to falling or even bleeding to the brain due to head injuries.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Paleness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing loss
  • Reduced vision
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Tachycardia or arrhythmia
  • Memory loss (especially in elderly patients)

Treatment:

Don’t try to keep upright a person who is collapsing !!! The body uses the fall as a defense mechanism. When the person is in a horizontal position, the blood, due to gravity, flows more easily to the brain and thus the senses return more quickly.

  • Check that the person is breathing. 40% of heart attacks are described as “fainting” by eyewitnesses.
  • If the person is breathing and does not have any other injuries, lift both feet about 30 cm above head level to improve blood flow to the brain.
  • We loosen clothing and anything is tight on the person and ensure the person can breathe freely.
  • If we need to leave the person alone we should place the body on its side in the safe position.
  • Do not give the person anything to drink before full recovery because there is a risk of choking.
  • Do not cover the person, as heat causes dilation of the blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to the brain.
  • When the person recovers, ensure that the person is seated and under observation for some time.
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