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Home :: Fainting


Fainting (also known as syncope) is a short-term loss of consciousness, usually for less than one minute. Fainting can happen when not enough oxygen flows through your blood and into your brain. You lose consciousness, or "pass out," for a very brief time -- just a few seconds or minutes.


A sudden decrease in blood pressure, which temporarily deprives the brain of blood. The drop in blood pressure may result from:

  • Pooled blood in the extremities caused by a long run.
  • Prolonged straining, such as from lifting heavy weights, coughing forcefully or attempting bowel movements when constipated.
  • Sudden emotional stress.
  • Standing after squatting (orthostatic hypotension). This is quite likely in weight-lifting when also holding breath ("weight-lifter's blackout.")
  • Hot, humid weather.
  • Low blood sugar.
  • Heartbeat abnormalities-too fast, too slow or irregular.
  • Heart diseases that limit the amount of blood the heart pumps.
  • Heart attack (rare).
  • Anemia (rare).
  • Use of certain drugs, such as heart medications that slow the heartbeat. These include digitalis, beta-adrenergic blockers and other antihypertensive drugs.

Signs and symptoms

  • Skin that is pale, cold and sweaty.
  • Blurred vision (sometimes).
  • Dizziness
  • A pale face
  • Nausea (sometimes).
  • Collapse
  • General weakness, then unconsciousness.
  • Rapid heartbeat (100 to 120 beats per minute) and rapid breathing. If heartbeat or breathing is not present, this may be cardiac arrest rather than fainting.


  • Observation of symptoms by those nearby.
  • Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.


First Aid- If someone faints, check for breathing and a neck pulse. If neither is present, this represents a cardiac arrest. Treat as an emergency:

  • Begin cardiac massage and mouth-to-mouth breathing (CPR). Don't stop until help arrives. If someone faints, is breathing and has a pulse, leave the person on the ground and elevate both legs. This helps return blood to the heart.
  • Dial a telephone for an ambulance if the person has not regained consciousness within a few seconds or recovered in a few minutes.

Medical Treatment

Doctor's treatment, if fainting is caused by an underlying disorder.

Home Treatment

  • If you feel faint, sit downimmediately and bend over, or lie down.
  • If you are subject to frequent fainting spells, avoid activities in which fainting may endanger your life, such as climbing to high places, driving vehicles or operating dangerous machinery.
  • Avoid any of the causes or risk factors listed above if possible.
  • Avoid sudden changes in physical activity.
  • If fainting episodes are caused by medication, consult your doctor about changing drugs.

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Disclaimer: website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Always take the advice of professional health care for specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site. Please note that medical information is constantly changing. Therefore some information may be out of date.