Fainting: causes, symptoms and when to consult a doctor - WFLA News Channel 8

WNCN News

Fainting: causes, symptoms and when to consult a doctor

Posted: Updated:
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Dr. Kevin Campbell discusses fainting on WNCN Today, including what causes it, what symptoms to look for and when to consult your doctor about it.

Fainting, also called syncope, is a sudden, brief loss of consciousness and posture caused by decreased blood flow to the brain.

Fainting is a common problem, accounting for 3 percent of emergency room visits and 6 percent of hospital admissions. A person may feel faint and light-headed (presyncope) or lose consciousness.

Understanding Fainting

So what causes us to faint? Many different conditions can cause a person to faint. These include heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat, seizures, panic or anxiety attacks, low blood sugar, anemia and problems with the nervous system.

The most common type of fainting spell in children and young adults is called a vasovagal attack or neurally-mediated syncope. A vasovagal attack happens because blood pressure drops, reducing circulation to the brain and causing a loss of consciousness. Typically an attack occurs while standing and is frequently preceded by a sensation of warmth, nausea, lightheadedness and visual "gray out." If the syncope is prolonged, it can trigger a seizure.

While fainting may indicate a particular medical condition, sometimes it may occur in otherwise healthy individuals. Fainting is a particular problem for the elderly, who may suffer serious injuries from falls when they faint. In most cases, the individual who has fainted regains complete consciousness within just a few minutes.

Symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Sweating
  • Blurred vision, seeing spots
  • Headache
  • Sensation that the room is moving
  • Ringing in the ears (see tinnitus)
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Paleness
  • Tingling or numbing of fingertips and around lips
  • Bluish cast to the skin
  • Shortness of breath

 

Call your doctor if:

You have an unexplained fainting episode. Especially if the episode occurs during exercise, happens during heart palpitations (feeling the heart beat irregularly) or if you have a family history of recurrent fainting or sudden death.

Tests & Treatments

A heart evaluation usually starts with an electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures the electrical activity of your heart to look for heart arrhythmias. Other tests, such as an exercise stress test, Holter monitor, or echocardiogram may be needed to rule out other cardiac causes of fainting.

If you suffer from episodes of fainting, the type of treatment your doctor offers will depend on the cause of your fainting spells and how often you experience them. Infrequent non-heart-related fainting may not need to be treated. You may be given certain medications to manage the underlying problem, or if you have an irregular heartbeat you may need specific medicines or other treatments.

 

  • NewsMore>>

  • RTP researchers working on Ebola vaccines

    RTP researchers working on Ebola vaccines

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:05 PM EDT2014-09-03 03:05:01 GMT
    North Carolina researchers are leading the charge in creating a vaccine for the Ebola virus.
    North Carolina researchers are leading the charge in creating a vaccine for the Ebola virus.
  • 3 held at knifepoint during Cary home invasion

    3 held at knifepoint during Cary home invasion

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 10:33 PM EDT2014-09-03 02:33:32 GMT
    File PhotoFile Photo
    A woman reported to Cary police she, her son and grandchild were robbed at knifepoint Monday during a home invasion.
    A woman reported to Cary police she, her son and grandchild were robbed at knifepoint Monday during a home invasion.
  • Ebola survivor: 'I felt like I was going to die'

    Ebola survivor: 'I felt like I was going to die'

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 9:07 PM EDT2014-09-03 01:07:12 GMT
    In the interview, Dr. Kent Brantly said he feared his own death, telling a nurse at one point: "I'm sick. I have no reserve and I don't know how long I can keep this up."In the interview, Dr. Kent Brantly said he feared his own death, telling a nurse at one point: "I'm sick. I have no reserve and I don't know how long I can keep this up."
    A U.S. doctor who survived after contracting Ebola while doing missionary work in Liberia is "very close" to the doctor most recently diagnosed with the disease and has spent time in "tearful prayer" for him, according to an interview with NBC News aired Tuesday.
    A U.S. doctor who survived after contracting Ebola while doing missionary work in Liberia is "very close" to the doctor most recently diagnosed with the disease and has spent time in "tearful prayer" for him, according to an interview with NBC News aired Tuesday.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.