What is syncope?

Syncope, also known as fainting, is the loss of consciousness for a brief period. It is a common problem in the general population. The patient loses consciousness abruptly without previous symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

Before fainting, the person may feel weak or nauseated. In addition, there may be a feeling that vision is constricting (tunnel vision) or that noises are fading into the background.

Causes of syncope or why it occurs

The causes of syncope can be very diverse; from cardiovascular, such as arrhythmias, to neurovascular, such as migraines.

A fainting spell can occur while or after the person:

  • Coughs very hard
  • Is defecating or urinating
  • Have been standing in one place for a long time
  • Sit up suddenly

Fainting may be related to:

  • Emotional stress
  • Fear
  • Severe pain
  • Low blood sugar
  • Certain medications such as those used to treat anxiety or depression
  • Alcohol or drug use

Can it be prevented?

There is no drug that prevents the occurrence of these fainting spells. But if you are prone to syncope, you should sit up slowly to avoid getting dizzy.

What is the treatment?

Treatment consists of keeping the patient’s legs elevated and head down in a well-ventilated, uncrowded place.

Treatment depends on the cause of the fainting. The doctor will determine if the person simply fainted or if something else happened. If someone witnessed the fainting, their explanation of what happened may be helpful. Tests your health care provider may order may include:

  • Blood tests to see if it is anemia
  • Heart rhythm monitoring
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiography
  • Electroencephalography
  • Holter monitoring
  • Chest X-ray