Fainting: What are the possible causes?

Fainting occurs if an individual loses consciousness for a brief period since the brain does not receive enough oxygen. An episode usually lasts for a few seconds up to a few minutes.

An individual usually feels dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous and weak before fainting occurs. Some individuals become aware that they are fading away or there is a sensation of “blacking or whiting out”. In most cases, full recovery takes a few minutes. In case there is no underlying health condition as the cause for fainting, treatment might not be needed.

Fainting is usually not an issue for concern but can be an indication of a serious health issue in some cases. If the individual does not have any previous history of fainting and fainted more than once in the previous month, a doctor should be consulted.

What are the causes?

In most cases, the exact cause of fainting is still vague. An episode can be triggered by various factors such as:

  • Severe pain
  • Fear or emotional trauma
  • Abrupt drop in the blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood sugar due to diabetes or not eating for a long period
  • Hyperventilation
  • Standing in one position for a long period

    An individual usually feels dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous and weak before fainting occurs.

  • Coughing forcefully
  • Standing quickly
  • Seizures
  • Engaging in strenuous activities under hot temperatures
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Straining during bowel movement

How to prevent fainting

  • If the individual has a history of fainting, determine the cause so that these triggers can be avoided.
  • When getting up from a seated or lying down position, move in a slow manner.
  • For those who feel sick upon seeing blood being drawn or during other medical procedures, inform the doctor.
  • Avoid skipping on meals.

If an individual feels lightheaded and weak along with a sensation of spinning, these are warning indications of fainting. If any of these are present, the individual should sit and place his/her head in between the knees to help blood reach the brain or lie down to prevent injuries due to falling.

Care for fainting

When an individual experiences an episode, you can promote the flow of blood to the head by elevating the feet above the level of the heart. Alternatively, you can instruct the individual to sit with the head positioned in between the knees.

Tight belts, collars or other constrictive clothing must be loosened. You have to keep the individual in a lying position for at least 10-15 minutes. It is ideal to rest in a quiet and cool place. In addition, you can also provide cool water. If the individual is not breathing, call for emergency assistance right away.