Fainting 101: What You Should Know
We’ve all seen or heard of people fainting. So what really is fainting?
Why haven’t you fainted before and if you have, what went wrong?
Do you really know what to do when someone faints?
Is every sudden collapse same as fainting?
Here’s a crash course on Fainting, #Fainting101
What exactly does “Fainting/Faint” mean?
Fainting simply means a sudden, brief loss of consciousness due to reduced oxygen/blood supply to the brain. It is medically known as syncope. Black-out or pass-out are commonly used to describe fainting.
A few differences between fainting and other forms of sudden collapses are:
- Fainting is temporary, victim regains consciousness almost immediately after hitting the ground.
- It is due to a reduced flow of blood or oxygen to the brain.
- It is not caused by trauma to the head.
- Victim keeps breathing
What Makes People Faint?
Here are a few things that cause people to faint:
- Low circulating blood level
- Low blood sugar
- Standing in one position for too long
- Severe pain
- Low oxygen concentration in the blood
- Fear or other emotional trauma
- Sudden drop in blood pressure
- Standing up too quickly
So why do people faint?
Fainting could be interpreted as a coping mechanism by the brain.
Whenever there is a reduction in oxygenated blood (blood rich in oxygen) supply to the brain, the body manages by temporarily pushing blood to vital organs only.
The lungs start working faster in a bid to get in more oxygen (hyperventilation) while the heart beats faster to increase blood flow. The increased heart rate leads to dilation of healthy blood vessels which invariably leads to a drop in blood pressure in the organs.
The combined effect of the low blood pressure, hyperventilation and temporary diversion of blood to the brain and vital organs leads to muscle weakness, dizziness and fainting.
Are there things that could occur before a person faints? Are there obvious signs before one faints?
Here are a few:
- Blurred vision
- A feeling of heaviness in the legs
- Feeling warm or hot
Differentiating Fainting From Other Causes Of Sudden Collapse
- Cardiac arrest: The victim will totally go unconscious with absence of pulse (pulse is a force you feel for when you place your finger just beside your throat in the neck or at the wrist just below the thumb).
- Seizure: During seizures, the victim falls to the ground suddenly and has involuntary/uncontrollable jerking of the body. Victims usually sleep off after the jerking.
- Concussion: It is a sudden collapse following a hit to the head.
How Do You Help A Person That Has Fainted?
- Put the victim on his/her back on a flat surface.
- Raise their legs above their chest/heart level. This helps increase blood flow to the heart.
- If they do not become fully responsive quickly.
- Check if they are breathing, if yes, place them on their left side.
- Call for emergency medical services/ Ambulance Nigeria.
- If they aren’t breathing or don’t have a pulse, commence Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and step 5
What can you do if someone tells you they feel like they are about to pass out or you sense someone is about to pass out?
- Ask the person to lie down and raise their legs above their chest/heart level.
- Ensure there is adequate ventilation/ “Fresh air”
- If he/she starts feeling better, keep in this position for a few seconds.
- Help them sit up slowly.
- If they feel light headed again, repeat the above
*Note: If they sit up/Stand up too quickly, they may faint again.
What Not To Do:
- Do not pour water on them.
- Avoid forcing food or anything down their mouth.
- Don’t drag them to get up quickly, as this may make them faint again and make the condition worse.
- Stop people from crowding around them, as this may cause inadequate of fresh air for them to breathe.
#emergencies #faintingatwork #faintingathome #ambulancenigeria #ambulanceemergencies #airambulanceinnigeria #emergencyresponseinlagos #fainting101
Write up by Medic Alao Olamide and Dr. Orafidiya Fikunola
- TAFE NSW Northern Sydney Institute.
- Getty Images