Fainting is the sudden and transient loss of consciousness. The person will wake up as soon as normal blood flow is restored to the brain. The term consciousness designates the state of knowledge that a person has of himself and that of his surroundings. Fainting is due to decreased oxygenation of the brain and as a result of drop in blood pressure. This is also know by the medical term syncope, fainting may be preceded by dizziness, nausea, or a feeling of extreme weakness. Fainting may be completely harmless and of no significance, but it can be an underlying of a symptom of a serious disorder, and should be treated as a medical emergency until the cause is determined. A person can pass out to several reasons: a strong emotion, prolonged fasting, staying in a crowded and hot or upright area, and obvious physical reasons. But it can also happen due to serious medical problems, an example of this is problems associated with the heart or the brain.

What are the symptoms of fainting?

Fainting usually has a sudden onset of symptoms such as, the subject falls to the ground suddenly with his eyes closed and is unresponsive to stimuli that are being offered by those around them and does not react to being called, or if they are being touched, or if they are being shaken. Sometimes fainting is preceded by malaise, dizziness, nausea, pallor or sudden sweating.

It is important to assess the vital functions and therefore the presence of breathing and the heartbeat. If the person continues to breath, the situation is generally not worrying and the episode should be resolved in a few minutes and sometimes seconds. If, however breathing and the heartbeat is absent in the patient’s wrist (or other locations used to determine heartbeat), it is very critical that you call for help promptly.

What to do if you faint:

If the vital functions are preserved it is sufficient to take the patient to a supine position (belly up) and lift their legs to a 45 degree position, to allow for the facilitation and arrival of blood to the brain. The victim should regain consciousness within a few minutes.

If the patient has no pulse and you can’t feel them breathing, you must call for medical assistance immediately. Meanwhile, to prevent the tongue from blocking the respiratory tract, it is advised to perform a hyperextension of the head (if during the fall there was no trauma to the column), bringing it back as much as possible by lifting the chin. If the person is only victim of an illness (and not from trauma, such as that experienced during an accident) it is advisable to turn the head to one side, so that the mouth is able to reach the lowest possible point.

What not to do in case of fainting:

  • It is important to leave the victim alone.
  • It is important then not to move the victim, and do not try to put them in a seat, or a similar position.
  • It is important to not give the victim any liquids of any kind in an attempt to make them regain consciousness (as this can lead to the victim choking).


Disclaimer: The information in this article does not in any way replace the intervention or signs associated with this type of emergency, but rather only provides simple tips as how to keep the situation under control while waiting for a medical rescue team to arrive.