Family Health Diary

Fainting is when you lose consciousness for a short time due to not enough blood and oxygen getting to your brain. There are many things that can cause someone to faint these include:

  • being emotionally upset like receiving shocking news
  • sudden exposure to an unpleasant sight (like blood)
  • fear
  • dehydration
  • physical exertion
  • being too hot
  • standing in one position for too long
  • not eating or drinking enough
  • anxiety or panic attacks
  • some medical conditions or medicines

What to do if someone faints
If someone else faints, lie them down if they haven’t already fallen down. Check they are not injured, make sure they are breathing, loosen any tights belts, scarves or clothing.

When they feel better get them to stay lying down or sitting for five minutes or more and then get up slowly so they don’t faint again. The person should regain consciousness within about a minute, but may take longer to be fully recovered. If they do not regain consciousness within a minute; ring an ambulance. If they are not breathing start CPR and ring 111.

Did you see them fall down? Are you sure they fainted? Do you know them?

Are they epileptic or diabetic? Do they have a heart condition? Did they complain of chest pain before falling down? Have they lost control of their bowel or bladder? They may need immediate medical help?

If you feel faint
Fainting usually happens very quickly. You might feel dizzy or sick before you faint. Some people feel the world slowly fade away; a ‘black out’ or a ‘white out’ feeling.

Some people feel light headed or nauseous (like they will be sick) before they faint.

If you feel faint it is important to sit or lie down. This helps blood keep getting to your brain and may prevent the faint happening. It also means you won’t hurt yourself by falling down if you do faint. If you have to sit rather than lie then put your head between your knees.

Take some slow deep breaths, drink some cool water.  Make sure you aren’t dehydrated, if you are drink plenty of fluids. If you haven’t eaten for several hours you might need to have something to eat.

Avoid things you know have made you faint in the past. Look at the list above: are you dehydrated, have you been exercising hard out, are you overly hot? If you know you don’t like the sight of blood or needles then look the other way.

Sometimes blood pressure medicine can be too effective and cause you to get very low blood pressure especially when you stand up suddenly. This may cause you to faint. If you have just started on blood pressure medicines or your dose has increased, discuss this with your pharmacist or doctor. Ask them if you need to be aware if the first few doses might cause you to faint.

See your doctor if:
Fainting is not usually a reason for concern but occasionally it might be the first sign of something serious. Because of this it is best to see your doctor if:

  • you are over 50 and have not fainted before
  • or if you are any age and have fainted more than once within a month
  • and you do not know any reason that might be causing this.

Written by Linda Caddick

This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The information contained in the blog and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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