In works of fiction, you can often see a scene as young, languid, unmarried young ladies of noble origin faint from the shocking news. Loss of consciousness was a kind of an obligatory attribute of refined natures in the highest aristocratic society. But in fact, anyone can experience fainting, regardless of gender and age. Let’s figure out what causes fainting when it can be dangerous and whether it is really possible to pass out from sudden news.
What is fainting
Fainting is a short-term loss of consciousness and muscle control caused by low blood flow to the brain. In most cases, this condition is not dangerous, but sometimes fainting can be a symptom of the disease.
types of faint
There are several types of syncope, which are classified according to the cause of the condition. Let’s list some types (don’t be alarmed, there will be complex terms further on).
- Nerve-mediated syncope. It is also called neurocardiogenic, vasovagal, or Vaso-depressive syncope. This is the most common type of fainting. It is more common in children and young people, although it can be encountered at any age.
Vasovagal syncope is caused by stimulation of the vagus nerve, which can briefly lower the heart rate and blood pressure, which causes a drop in blood flow to the brain, causing a person to lose consciousness. Such fainting can occur with extreme exertion during bowel movements or with sudden severe stress. Yes, the very shocking news may well trigger it.
- Situational syncope is a type of vasovagal syncope. It is associated with certain situations that affect the nervous system. For example, this fainting spell can be caused by:
- strong emotional stress, anxiety, fear
- using alcohol or drugs
- Hyperventilation (breathing in too much oxygen and getting rid of too much carbon dioxide quickly)
- severe coughing, sneezing or laughing
Causes of fainting
- Postural hypotension, a sudden drop in pressure that triggers fainting can cause fainting. This can happen with a quick change in position, for example, from a prone position to a standing position. Certain medications and dehydration can lead to this condition.
2. Cardiac or cardiovascular syncope – associated with cardiovascular disease and may be a symptom. These fainting spells can be associated with conditions such as bradycardia (a severe slowing of the heart rate), tachycardia (a strong increase in heart rate), or certain types of hypotension (low blood pressure).
3. Unknown reason. Sometimes, the cause of fainting may be unclear.
The following conditions may precede fainting:
- darkening in the eyes.
- a feeling of warmth.
- feeling sleepy or weak.
If you feel that you are about to faint, you can try:
- lie on your back and raise your legs. If this cannot be done, then sit down and lower your head between your knees.
- drink some water.
- eat something.
- take a few deep breaths.
If someone fainted nearby, it is important to remain calm and not panic. Lay the person on their back and lift their legs if possible. Usually a person regains consciousness in about 20 seconds.
Call an ambulance if:
- We cannot wake a person up 1 minute after losing consciousness;
- he was badly injured in the fall;
- the person is shaking or twitching because of a seizure.
When loss of consciousness is not a problem.
Vasovagal syncope (including situational syncope) is usually not a signal of any problem. Such fainting can occur because of prolonged standing, dehydration, the sight of blood, emotional trauma, stress, fear of bodily harm.
If these fainting spells occur frequently and cause concern, seek the advice of a specialist.
A serious cause of loss of consciousness may be indicated by:
- age over 60.
- the presence of known cardiovascular diseases.
- fainting with or after exercise.
- fainting when lying on your back.
- atypical cardiac examination.
- family history of hereditary diseases.
- loss of consciousness as a side effect of medication.
Here, consult a doctor as soon as possible. You can prepare for your visit to the clinic and answer the following questions:
- Do you feel nauseous or dizzy before losing consciousness?
- Do you have shortness of breath?
- Have you taken a new medicine?
- Do you eat and sleep well?
- How often have you fainted?
At the appointment, the doctor may ask other questions. This is necessary to collect a complete history so that the doctor can see the entire picture. The doctor may also order additional tests to determine the cause of the fainting:
- a blood test for anaemia or metabolic changes.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) – the test records the electrical signals that the heart produces. It can detect irregular heart rhythm and other heart problems. It can carry the test out using a portable monitor that will have to be worn for a while.
- Exercise ECG – A test in which an ECG records the electrical activity of the heart while a person is physically active, such as running on a treadmill.
- echocardiogram – a test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the structures of the heart.
- Tilting table – it carries the analysis out on a special table that tilts at different angles. At this moment, it records blood pressure and heart rate. The test may show abnormal cardiovascular reflexes that cause fainting.