Fainting, or syncope, is the loss of consciousness for a few seconds or more, usually due to either a drop in oxygen and/or blood pressure to the brain.  Symptoms of an impending faint usually include a sensation of vision tunneling, blurred vision and/or sudden difficulty hearing.  It is important to try to either lay down or lean over with your head lower than your chest if this occurs.  Arise slowly once you feel better.  Common causes of syncope include:

  1. Standing up too fast or standing still for a prolonged period of time.
  2. Dehydration and overexertion, especially in hot and humid weather.
  3. Breathing too fast (hyperventilation), panic or anxiety states.
  4. Long standing diabetes as well as a precipitous drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
  5. Over correction of hypertension with blood pressure medication.
  6. Coughing, urination, stretching or straining to have a bowel movement.
  7. Use of alcohol or certain recreational drugs.
  8. Problems with the heart (see Palpitations) and/or blood vessels that lead to the brain.
  9. Low red blood cell count (anemia).

Seek medical care if you faint or have a problem with sensation of near-faint.  Your physician will take a detailed history and perform an exam, obtain blood studies and may run an EKG and run other tests such as ultrasound of the heart and/or blood vessels to determine the cause.  A treatment and/or prevention program can then be instituted.

If you are a member of North Idaho Direct Primary Care and would like to schedule an appointment for dizziness or fainting episodes, contact us at 208-772-5204.  If you are not a member and would like to learn more about our practice, you may click here for more information.  Alternatively, if you found this article helpful and would like to sign up for our monthly newsletter, click here to be added to our mailing list.

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