Fainting is a temporary loss of consciousness that occurs suddenly for a few seconds or minutes. This condition can start with dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, or impaired hearing, then progress to loss of consciousness until you fall.

In medical terms, fainting is known as syncope. Fainting occurs when blood flow to the brain suddenly slows down so that the brain doesn't get enough oxygen. People who have fainted can return to full consciousness afterwards.

Fainting that is not linked to a specific medical disorder is generally harmless. While fainting caused by a medical condition or disease needs to get an examination and treatment so it doesn't happen again.

Causes of Fainting

Generally, fainting occurs when blood pressure drops suddenly, reducing blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain. A number of conditions that can trigger fainting are stress, fear, weather that is too hot, electric shock (shock) , and sudden changes in position.

In addition, there are several factors that can increase a person's risk of fainting, namely:

  • Suffer from disorders of the autonomic nervous system
  • Have heart disease, such as  arrhythmia , narrowing of the heart valves, or abnormalities in the structure of the heart
  • Have decreased blood sugar levels ( hypoglycemia )
  • Have diabetes or a disease that can affect the nervous system, such as malnutrition,  alcoholism , and  amyloidosis
  • Experiencing hyperventilation due to breathing too fast, because you feel panic or anxiety
  • Taking drugs that can affect blood pressure, such as hypertension drugs , and drugs for anxiety disorders

Symptoms of Fainting

Before fainting, usually the initial symptoms will appear in the form of:

  • Sleepy
  • Evaporate
  • Looks pale
  • Dizzy  and like floating
  • Nausea, anxiety, rapid breathing, and sudden cold sweats
  • Blurred or dizzy vision
  • Impaired hearing or hearing is muffled
  • Dazed and unsteady body, especially when standing
  • Body feels weak
  • Ringing ears
  • Heart beat
  • Headache

After that, the body will feel deprived of energy and then unconscious. Even so, the initial symptoms of fainting can be different for each person, there are even people who don't feel the initial symptoms at all before fainting.

When to see a doctor

Check with  your doctor if you experience fainting for no apparent reason or occur repeatedly. A doctor's examination is needed so that the cause of fainting can be identified and treated so that it doesn't happen again in the future.

If you find someone who has fainted around you, immediately take them to the emergency room to get treatment, especially if they experience one of the following symptoms:

  • Not breathing
  • Unconscious for more than 1–2 minutes
  • Experiencing bleeding or injury
  • Over 50 years old
  • Is pregnant
  • Have seizures
  • Never fainted before or even fainted often
  • Have or currently suffer from  diabetes , hypertension, hypotension, or  heart disease
  • Experiencing  chest pain  or palpitations before passing out
  • Have a history  of  previous head injuries

Examination by a doctor also needs to be done if a person who has fainted has been confused for a long time or cannot move his arms or legs after waking up from fainting.

Fainting diagnosis

The doctor will ask the patient or the person who accompanied the patient regarding the complaints the patient experienced before fainting. Questions that will be asked include the position of the patient when he fainted and how long the patient was unconscious.

The doctor will also ask about the medical history and medicines that are being consumed, as well as what the patient feels after he wakes up.

Next, the doctor will check the patient's consciousness using the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)  and carry out an examination to find out the cause of fainting.

In some cases, a physical examination alone is enough to determine the cause of fainting. However, in other cases, the following supporting examinations are needed to determine the cause of fainting:

  • Blood tests , to check the balance of blood sugar levels and anemia
  • Electrocardiogram  (EKG), to see the electrical activity in the heart
  • Echocardiography , to see the structure of the heart and blood flow in the heart
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG), to measure electrical activity in the brain
  • Holter monitor, to record the state of the heart for at least 24 hours
  • CT scan , to see the structure of certain organs or tissues

Fainting Treatment

Handling of fainting will be adjusted to the cause. The action given aims to increase blood flow to the brain so that the patient's oxygen needs are fulfilled.

If you feel the first signs of fainting, try to lie down comfortably and elevate your feet slightly above your head.

If you see someone fainting, seek medical attention immediately to a doctor or hospital. While waiting for medical help to arrive, do first aid as follows:

  • Take the patient to a safe place while still lying down and make sure the position is comfortable.
  • Wake the sufferer by shaking his body, calling him in a loud voice, or giving painful stimuli, for example by pinching or placing a cold towel on his face or neck.
  • Check if the patient is breathing and if there is any blockage in his respiratory tract.
  • Immediately perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR if the patient does not show the ability to breathe or has a cardiac arrest
  • Loosen clothing or accessories that are too tight, such as collars and belts.
  • If possible, take the sufferer to a cool room or have good air circulation.
  • Avoid giving any food or drink when the patient is not fully conscious, because of the risk of choking .
  • Wrap the patient in a blanket if the skin feels cold to the touch.

If the patient is conscious, provide assistance by:

  • Let the patient lie still, then wait about 10-15 minutes before allowing him to sit or stand.
  • Give the person something to drink or eat slowly, especially if he hasn't eaten in the last 6 hours or has diabetes.
  • Accompany the sufferer until he is completely conscious.

When medical help arrives, tell the doctor or medical officer how long the patient has been unconscious and what you have done.

Treatment and treatment given by doctors to patients who faint will be adjusted to the cause. Apart from that, the doctor will also advise the patient to:

  • Avoiding trigger factors, such as  stress , standing too long, or being in a stuffy and hot room
  • Meet fluid needs, limit consumption of salt, caffeine and alcohol, and maintain food portions

Fainting can be overcome and prevented with proper handling. However, people who have fainted are more at risk of experiencing fainting in the future.

Fainting complications

Fainting is usually not a dangerous condition. However, fainting can be dangerous if it occurs under certain conditions or in certain places, for example when you are driving or in a high place. This can cause sufferers to fall, bump, and get injured.

Fainting Prevention

To prevent fainting, people who have risk factors for fainting or have previously fainted are advised to take the following preventive measures:

  • Recognize situations that can trigger fainting and avoid them
  • Learn to manage stress and panic, for example by practicing breathing techniques or doing  yoga
  • Keep yourself fit, with enough sleep and rest
  • Eat regularly and consume healthy foods with balanced nutrition
  • Meet your fluid needs by drinking enough water to avoid  dehydration
  • Change positions slowly when getting up from a sitting or lying position
  • Lie down and elevate your feet slightly higher than your head if you feel the symptoms before fainting
  • Routinely see a doctor if you have health problems that are at risk of causing fainting, such as diabetes or heart disease
Back to blog