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Updated 07 November 2013

Fainting

Fainting is the temporary loss of consciousness due to a sudden decline in blood flow to the brain.

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Summary

  • Fainting is the temporary loss of consciousness due to a sudden decline in blood flow to the brain.
  • Fainting can occur in otherwise healthy people.

Description

Fainting is the temporary loss of consciousness due to a sudden decline in blood flow to the brain.

Cause

It may be caused by an irregular cardiac rate or rhythm or by changes of blood volume or distribution.

Symptoms

Fainting can occur in otherwise healthy people. The patient feels faint, dizzy, or lightheaded (presyncope), or loses consciousness (syncope).

Prognosis

Fainting is a dramatic event and can even be life-threatening if not treated appropriately. Generally, however, recovery is usually complete within minutes to hours.

Treatment

Non-cardiac fainting is treated acutely by lying down with the legs elevated. Infrequent episodes of non-cardiac fainting usually do not require treatment.

Reviewed by Dr Mark Abelson MBBCH MRCP(UK) FCP(SA)

 
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