WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT FAINTING ATTACK OR SYNCOPE?: SUNDAY MIRROR

Fainting or syncope is a very common problem. Most of us have experienced it in our lifetime. The American heart association states that syncope is the medical term for fainting and/or passing out. Syncope is the temporary loss of consciousness due to a lack of blood flow to the brain.

For transient period of time blood flow decreases to brain. It is named in many trivial names like swooning, fainting, passing out etc. The syncope is mentioned in many society and culture.

A mediaeval painting about syncope

#WHY IT OCCURS?

Syncope occurs due to loss of blood supply to brain for a limited time. There are wide range of causes for it.This may occur from either a triggering event such as exposure to blood, pain, strong feelings or a specific activity such as urination, vomiting, or coughing. Heart related causes may include an abnormal rhythm, problems with valves or muscle. Neurally mediated syncope occurs when blood vessels expand and heart rate decreases inappropriately. Another type of syncope is due to a drop in blood pressure when changing position such as when standing up. There are some genetic diseases which can cause syncope.

#WHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF SYNCOPE?

Syncope or fainting attack occurs suddenly. Some people feel lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, coldness of skin. Some feel a curtain of black cloth falling in front of eye. These symptoms before fainting are called presyncope. Some people have jerky movement at the time of fall. Some people have sweating all over the body. Occasionally the fainting attacks are confused with seizure. The people get up after some seconds. They usually forget the episodes at the time of fall.

If you can lie down at the first sign of these symptoms, you will often be able to prevent fainting. When it happens, this type of fainting almost always happens in a sitting or standing position. When a person does faint, lying down restores blood flow to the brain. Consciousness should return fairly quickly. You might not feel normal for a little while after you faint. Some people feel fatigue and dizzy after syncope.

#WHAT ARE COMMON TRIGGERS OF SYNCOPE?

Several triggers can cause fainting attacks. To help reduce the risk of fainting, you can stay away from some of these triggers such as:

  • Standing for long periods
  • Excess heat
  • Intense emotion, such as fear
  • Intense pain
  • The sight of blood or a needle
  • Prolonged exercise
  • Dehydration
  • Skipping meals
  • Hypotension
  • Hypoglycemia

Other triggers include:

  • Urinating
  • Passing stool
  • Swallowing
  • Coughing

#WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE IS HAVING FAINTING ATTACKS?

If someone is having multiple fainting attacks he/she should never neglect it. He/she should be evaluated by both Neurologist and cardiologist. But luckily most of the fainting attacks are not lethal. They are due to some triggers. Hypotension is one of the commonest trigger. The fainting attacks are more frequent in older age group. A good medical history, physical examination, and electrocardiogram (ECG) are the most effective ways to determine the underlying cause of syncope. If suspicion is there other tests are done.

#HOW TO AVOID FAINTING ATTACK?

  • Avoiding triggers, such as standing for a long time or the sight of blood
  • Moderate exercise training
  • Dont stop or increase your medicine for hypertension.
  • Eating a higher salt diet, to help keep up blood volume
  • Drinking plenty of fluids, to maintain blood volume
  • Wearing compression stockings or abdominal binders
  • If a known case of cardiac or neurological disease, don’t stop or change your medication without consulting your specialist.
  • Dont urinate while standing
  • Get up from sitting or sleeping position slowly.

Please read and share

Reference

Kapoor WN. Syncope. New England Journal of Medicine. 2000 Dec 21;343(25):1856-62.

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