Fainting: causes, symptoms and when to consult a doctor - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

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.

 

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Sheriff's Office showcases "Faces of Meth" program as a lesson to all

    Sheriff's Office showcases "Faces of Meth" program as a lesson to all

    Monday, July 21 2014 11:33 AM EDT2014-07-21 15:33:26 GMT
    Faces of Meth™ is a project of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in Oregon. This project began when a deputy in the Corrections Division Classification Unit, Deputy Bret King, put together mug shots of persons booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center. Deputy King worked with his co-workers in the Classification Unit to identify people who had been in custody more than once. He then worked to verify criminal records and files to determine and assure a history of methamphetamine re...
    Faces of Meth™ is a project of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in Oregon. This project began when a deputy in the Corrections Division Classification Unit, Deputy Bret King, put together mug shots of persons booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center. Deputy King worked with his co-workers in the Classification Unit to identify people who had been in custody more than once. He then worked to verify criminal records and files to determine and assure a history of methamphetamine re...
  • Update: Savannah Chatham Metro Police Look Into Multiple Midtown Shooting

    Update: Savannah Chatham Metro Police Look Into Multiple Midtown Shooting

    Officers with the SCMPD were gathered on Sunday evening outside a residence on 55th street. That home was near the intersection of 55th street and Hickory. They weren’t releasing details of the crime investigated, but there were a number of clues as to just what it might be, including the the fact that officers were gathered in large numbers there and had already stretched crime scene tape around the area. News 3 is still investigating this scene. When more information becomes available, find...
    Officers with the SCMPD were gathered on Sunday evening outside a residence on 55th street. That home was near the intersection of 55th street and Hickory. They weren’t releasing details of the crime investigated, but there were a number of clues as to just what it might be, including the the fact that officers were gathered in large numbers there and had already stretched crime scene tape around the area. News 3 is still investigating this scene. When more information becomes available, find...
  • Birmingham man's penis amputated during circumcision, according to Jefferson County lawsuit

    Birmingham man's penis amputated during circumcision, according to Jefferson County lawsuit

    Thursday, July 24 2014 7:39 PM EDT2014-07-24 23:39:17 GMT
    The man says he was not warned that a circumcision procedure could lead to a penis amputation.
    The man says he was not warned that a circumcision procedure could lead to a penis amputation.
  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • 2 charged with first-degree murder in beating death of UNC professor, cancer researcher

    2 charged with first-degree murder in beating death of UNC professor, cancer researcher

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:00 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:00:14 GMT
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
  • UNC: Former athletes can return to finish degrees

    UNC: Former athletes can return to finish degrees

    Thursday, July 24 2014 1:04 PM EDT2014-07-24 17:04:36 GMT
    UNC Chancellor Carol Folt. (File photo)UNC Chancellor Carol Folt. (File photo)
    University of North Carolina Chancellor Carol Folt announced a new program Thursday that will allow former UNC athletes to return and finish their uncompleted degrees.
    University of North Carolina Chancellor Carol Folt announced a new program Thursday that will allow former UNC athletes to return and finish their uncompleted degrees.
  • Indian teen has 232 'teeth' removed from jaw

    Indian teen has 232 'teeth' removed from jaw

    Friday, July 25 2014 11:23 PM EDT2014-07-26 03:23:39 GMT
    After complaining of pain in his jaw, an Indian teen and his family discovered that he had a severe dental condition - and surgeons pulled 232 "teeth" from his jaw. 
    After complaining of pain in his jaw, an Indian teen and his family discovered that he had a severe dental condition - and surgeons pulled 232 "teeth" from his jaw. 
Powered by WorldNow

1430 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404

Telephone: 912.651.0300
Fax: 912.651.0320
Email: newsemailalert@wsav.com

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