Fainting 101

Fainting is or has become a common phenomenon in our society. It happens to almost everyone around including friends. I’ve always seen it as something peculiar to some people because of their medical condition, but not until I became a victim. Fainting which is medically referred to as syncope or in a layman’s term faint, black out, or pass out is a temporary loss of consciousness leading to falling but with a fairly rapid and complete recovery.

Although its scary, its our body natural way of correcting or balancing the interrupted supply of blood to the brain. Blood pressure helps the heart pump blood upward to the brain against gravity which is of course tedious than pumping to the leg. Yes and blood pressure changes every time you stand up, sit down, bend, eat, get stressed, relax etc, but the body have its technique for balancing the pressure. However, some drugs and diseases do interfere with such balancing technique causing a drop in blood flow to the brain.

The brain doesn’t store up energy unlike other tissues hence it requires a steady and constant supply of sugar and oxygen carried in the blood, so stopping the flow of blood to the brain for 5 seconds or less is enough to set the brain to shutdown. The brain stops, therefore stops signal to nerves and muscles causing the person to slump. Once the person is on the floor lying, it becomes easier for the blood to flow to the brain and the brain wakes up again…that’s natures way.

There are 2 main broad causes of fainting which are the non-cardiac causes due to drop in blood pressure usually caused by intense emotional stress, fear, pain include sneezing, weight lifting and a shirt collar rubbing against the side of the neck…true or playing a brass instrument (trumpet)…also true and the cardiac causes of which the latter is less frequently and of utmost medical urgency.

Furthermore, possible causes of fainting from the most frequent cause include:

  1. Seizures; which is as a result of changes in the brains electrical activity that causes violent shaking and loss of bodily control.
  2. Heart attack; which happens when a clot blocks the blood flow to the heart and damages heart muscles it causes a crushing chest pain and shortness of breath. Requires urgent medical conditions.
  3. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia in medical terms); a chronic disease that affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. Also a medical emergency.
  4. Hypotension (low blood pressure); sometimes good but can imply an underlying medical condition. It may also cause weakness and dizziness.
  5. Allergy; happens when your body immune system sees a good food or medicine as or foreign and try to eliminate it.

Panic attacks, pregnancy, abnormal heart beat, eating disorders (anorexia) are other major causes. If you have fainted, do not hesitate to seek medical urgency to know the cause. A delay to treat a cardiac cause can lead to death.

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